Accidentally Sending Nudes To Strangers. As One Does.

Not my proudest moment

Time To Read: 6 mins | Feb 25, 2017

fml I think I’m getting dumber, sorry :X

That was the second text I sent Aubry. The first was a 100-word essay about my plans for the day, and a charmed little moment I’d just experienced – I saw a bright red bird jump out of a tree, dive like a bullet straight into the ocean, and resurface moments later with a small thrashing fish, all perfectly synced to the beat of the song in my headphones.

Thing is, I hadn’t meant to send that story to Aubry at all. While I’m sure she found my schedule for the next 24 hours interesting, and no doubt enjoyed the bird anecdote, that message was supposed to land with a friend in New York who’d out-and-out asked what I was up to. But because I’m an idiot with all things technology, the text went to someone two states over.

Fortunately for everyone involved, that mismanaged message wasn’t anything explicit. God knows I’ve digitally shared my fair share of objectionable content over the years —


and now I have to clarify, because someone’s already thinking it: no, I don’t send dick pics.

I’ve never understood the appeal. A penis is a silly backwards tail that shoots pee out. A goofy flesh sword that, yes, is quite useful for intimate encounters, but otherwise just dangles and sweats all day next to some even uglier bits of the male body. It is not an attractive appendage in any way, shape or form.

I did, however, very recently send a… let’s go with ‘grown-up’ photo to a complete stranger. Because like I told Aubry, I am getting dumber.

I’d met a couple in Bocas del Toro, Panama. He was Australian, and she was something else — I’m sure she told me but I’ve since forgotten. Eastern European, I think, based on how everything she said in her native tongue sounded unnecessarily angry.

But Australians, on the other hand, are my people. Some humans feel like they’re born the wrong gender; I think I was born in the wrong country. All they do down there is drink and fight crocodiles and ride kangaroos, then brag of their exploits in unintelligible accents all night in ramshackle outback bars.

That sentence represents everything I know about Australia, and assuming it’s factually accurate, I’d like to ask this great nation descended from convicts to formally adopt me.

Anyway, my new Australian buddy had been a special sort of drunk the night we met, but we’d still managed to add each other on Facebook. These days, rather than dealing with country codes and international phone numbers, it’s easier to communicate with foreigners by using FB’s Messenger service.

It was late afternoon the next day when he shot me a note. Apparently his hangover had finally eased up a bit, and he and his girlfriend were out getting dinner. He proved this fact by sending me an idyllic photo of their view from the restaurant’s outdoor patio – a sunset over the water, with their beers and tacos on the table in front of them. You know, the sort of picture millions of diners unnecessarily post to Instagram every day. #foodie #foodporn #fitspo #nofilter #blessed

He asked what I was up to, and I actually had a pretty interesting answer. I too was on a porch watching the sunset with a beer, but to my left was a yoga class. At least, I think that’s what they were doing. The ten of them had the standard mats and the tight pants, but instead of doing bendy woo-sah stretching, they were taking turns lifting one another in an increasingly creative manner. One guy was holding his girlfriend in the air with his feet while she twisted her torso like a corkscrew.


I’m not sure what they accomplished by doing this, but it was entertaining to watch.

I described the scene to the Australian, and he immediately demanded a picture. Which is a more difficult request than it seems. My iPhone’s front-facing camera quit working months ago, so lately I’ve had to use the selfie camera for everything. A simple snapshot of a street scene means my contorting my body to see the screen’s preview while simultaneously staying out of the frame. This makes me look very intelligent to strangers. And lately, even that camera has been getting fuzzier by the day. In a few weeks I expect the entire phone to finally give up and commit harikari.

But I was working on my computer at the time, and figured I’d just use its camera instead. So I spun the laptop around, opened Photobooth, and took a quick picture of the would-be acrobats.

The next step was simple enough, even for someone as tech-challenged as me. I’d simply drag and drop the photo into Facebook Messenger, then click send. Easy.

Three computer settings worked against me. First, when I opened my ‘Pictures’ folder, all the files were shown in List view. That means you get to see all the file names and details, but the thumbnail showing the actual photos is too small to be useful.

This didn’t seem like a problem, as I reasoned I could just pull the top photo, since it’d be the most recent. I clicked the ‘Date Modified’ column to arrange the files chronologically. Which brings us to problem number 2: I instead set them for reverse chronology. Meaning instead of the newest photo on the top, it was the very oldest images first.

The third problem is Facebook Messenger’s file uploading system. After you drag and drop a file, there is no ‘Confirm’ or ‘Send’ button; it immediately starts sending the file. So at the same moment I saw an extremely risqué photo of a fling from several years back appear on Facebook, the Australian saw it, too.


I reacted quickly, if not well.

My first thought was to send the message ‘WHOA WHOA WHOA’ followed by ‘NO NO NO’. Only after a long three seconds did I think to delete the file, and then quickly asked, “did that photo go through?” When he didn’t immediately answer, I learned from Google that deleting a file on messenger only deletes it on your end; the recipient can still see it.

This might have been the most panicked and embarrassing moment of my technological life — but after my heart rate settled down a tad, I realized it could have been much worse. This poor girl’s face, whose trust I’d just royally abused, wasn’t in the picture, nor was there any way to identify her. Christ, I hadn’t even known I still had the photo.

On top of that, the Australian doesn’t know any of the same people I know. I confirmed I’m not friends with the girl on FB, so even if he were creepy and stalkerish enough to try and sort it out, he couldn’t.

— anyone who’s read this far just hoping to see a naughty photo, or at least get a detailed description, sorry to disappoint. It was suggestive and there was a severe lack of clothing, and I wasn’t in it. That’s all you get.

But to recap, I’ve just made a horrible mistake that doesn’t affect me, which in turn makes the guilt double. While there’s no realistic scenario where this faux pas could somehow affect the girl — who likely doesn’t even remember sending it to some guy she spent one weekend with over 5 years ago – all the ‘power’ rested with this Australian stranger. In the 1 minute between my sending that photo and his finally responding, I was racking my brain, trying to think of any possible way to guarantee he’d never do anything with the picture.

I needn’t have worried.

The next message I received was a picture. It was a selfie of the Australian standing in a bathroom. You can see his face, plus everything else. Not a single scrap of clothing on him. He’s holding ‘himself’ and making a serious, sultry face into the mirror.

Then another message came through, just one line of text: “did that photo go through?”

This, then, is the only acceptable use of a dick pic: as reassurance to the idiot who accidentally sent you someone else’s candid photo. While that’s certainly not what he’d originally intended it for – and you have to question the judgment of someone who has a photo like that readily available – it is the perfect nuclear deterrent.

They’re good guys, the Australians.


photo: handrails are for the weak. oceanside walkway in isla mujeres, mexico

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Malcolm Freberg
Malcolm Freberg
American writer living permanently on the road. Believes rye whiskey is superior to bourbon, Belle is the best Disney princess, and that selfie sticks should be snapped in half on sight. Hosted a travel documentary for AOL & played Survivor a few times.

Leave a Comment


  1. Ashlynn

    As much as I adore you, Malcolm, there’s a typo in your bio. I believe you meant to say “selfie sticks should BE snapped in half on sight.

    Love you, you’re my winner pick for S34. Kick some ass.

  2. Adele

    Us Australians would adopt you in a heartbeat 🙂

  3. Cathy

    I love this story because of I may have sent a picture I let my husband take to an guy friend of many years. I was terrified knowing I had to tell my husband, And he just laughed.

    And I am with You, I love the people of Australia and the country. I would love to move there!

    • Cathy

      Ironically the picture I shared was taken while in Australia lol

  4. Chloè

    I love Australia too and You’re my favorite player in S34!

  5. Adiz Pereira

    Ahh. I’m sure they’ll adopt you?


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