When Amanda Beck wanted to show off her delicious Mexican meal last month – the No. 5 lunch special, which includes a burrito, taco and refried beans – the Henrico County teenager thought nothing of sending a photo of the hot plate to a friend.
But then her friend passed the photo of the meal to another friend. Who passed it to another.
And then to another.
“I was horrified,” said the 17-year-old Beck, who suddenly realized that by the noon the next day, everyone had seen photos of her steaming entree. “I never thought that those photos would get around so fast the way that they did.”
Beck is not alone. Local school officials said they are concerned with a “growing and disturbing” trend among students, who are using cell phones to send explicit picture text messages of their Mexican food meals to others, in a phenomenon known as Mexting. The photos sometimes are passed to more than the intended recipient, creating what can quickly become an embarrassing situation for someone who was trying to share their sauce and spice-heavy meal with another person in private.
“Just like in real life, people get excited over the sight of Mexican food, and technology is advancing that. It’s our human nature to see these images of such foods and get a deep Mexican craving,” said Allison Cubitt, a guidance counselor at Thomas Jefferson High School in Richmond.
“What these teens don’t realize is that there can be serious consequences when sending pictures of their tacos or enchiladas to others,” she added.
Exactly how prevalent Mexting has become is difficult to determine, since there is little research on the subject. But empirical evidence has led Richmond psychologist P. Bill Fasullio to believe that it’s not just teens who are Mexting – he believes one in three under age 18 has done so – and that adults are getting in on the titillating act, too.
“In fact, I just did,” the 62-year-old said, finishing up his Chipotle burrito, but not before sending images of it to his wife, children, and mistress via his BlackBerry.
Officials said that if the Mexting trend keeps up, it could one day lead to people sending photos of their muscles, or flexting; sneezing, or Kleenexting; or sending nude or semi-nude photos of themselves to others, a trend that has yet to be named.