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In 2018, people embraced being horny on Twitter

Jason Reed/The Daily Dot

It’s your public Twitter, and you’ll be as thirsty as you want.

Everyone collectively threw in the towel and became unabashedly thirsty this year. Donald Trump is president, global warming is going to kill us, Amazon owns our economy, and Elon Musk is dating Grimes. Fuck it. From “after dark” Twitter accounts to thirst traps, it’s time to take a stand and be horny on the internet.

2018 made from tide pod shapes

One of the most memorable examples of someone acting horny on main in 2018 was the so-called “Beto Sex Tweet,” where one Twitter user compared potential 2020 presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke to “the guy who is all sweet and nerdy but holds you down and makes you cum until your calves cramp.” That tweet has since been hailed the horniest political tweet of 2018. But is it inaccurate? No, not really.

“I’ve BEEN saying this!” Chapo Trap House’s Will Menaker tweeted, while Will and Grace’s Debra Messing stressed “This. Is. Everything.”

beto orourke deborah messing Debra Messing/Twitter

The Beto Sex Tweet’s sheer explicit language made it a viral sensation. Merely uttering the tweet’s name brought out strange reactions, from disgust to desire to utter indifference.

HuffPost’s Ashley Feinberg, meanwhile, carried out a much more pressing journalistic investigation: Had Beto himself seen the tweet? She tweeted at O’Rourke twice to confirm whether or not he saw it. As of yet, no one knows.

The Beto Sex Tweet may be a lot to process if you’ve never had a sexual fantasy about Beto O’Rourke cramping your calves before. But the fact that Twitter is talking about the tweet isn’t all that shocking.

Women have shaken the online editorial world by announcing yes, they fuck. Whether that’s trans women, queer women, sex workers, dommes, or just women owning up to the fact that they experience orgasms, writers have introduced readers to new ways of thinking about their bodies. This isn’t a new experience: for years, female sexuality writers have dominated online writing. But a generation that grew up on this kind of media is finally coming of age, and it’s thinking about sex in a way that centers queer and femme gazes.

If the editorial world encouraged readers to express themselves sexually, then social media gave the internet the opportunity to do so publicly. In a world where sexual gratification is as easy as hopping on Instagram and posting a slightly suggestive selfie, being horny on main is more fun than ever before.

Twitter has developed a language around horniness that makes thirst less objectifying, too. Suggestive photos are just “thirst traps.” Obsessing over your gym crush’s cute bod is just “thirst posting.” And creating a private Twitter account for talking about sex is just sharing an “AD,” or “after dark.” Putting online horniness into a coded language makes it feel like a shared experience, making it less taboo to express one’s sexuality on the internet.

For the record, I can prove that Twitter is getting hornier. I set up a poll in late November asking users if they were hornier on main in 2018. Between 214 votes, 43 percent responded that they became “more horny,” while 29 percent were “equally horny.” That means from 2017 to 2018, over 70 percent of respondents reported equal or increased levels of horniness on main.

See? There’s science involved.

There’s also memes. Being horny on main changed the way we post on the internet. Take Bowsette, the gaming community’s feminized take on Bowser. When Nintendo introduced the Super Crown’s ability to turn Toadette into Peach, artists brought the crown to its logical conclusion—turning iconic video game characters into cute girls.

The very nature of the meme—a powerful, masculine villain becoming a buff, domineering woman—fascinated users with transformation and feminization fetishes. Others, especially queer women, fell in love with Bowsette for her non-normative appearance. It took weeks for the meme to die down in popularity.

Just because you can be horny on main doesn’t mean you can be creepy on main. There are still boundaries involved.

Case in point, just look at Wall Street Journal’s Elliot Kaufman, who wrote a bizarrely thirsty tweet negging a young woman on the subway who didn’t know about Winston Churchill. Kaufman quickly went viral for calling her an “attractive 22-year-old girl” and tweeting that he has “been waiting for this moment my entire life” to talk to someone like her. Months later, Kaufman is the poster child for thirst posting recklessly on the internet.

Of course, being horny on main is an art form, and the best practitioners are subtle. Just look at the esports world’s response to Zach “Sneaky” Scuderi, the professional League of Legends player who crossplays as women from famous anime series and video games. His cosplay is incredibly high quality, largely thanks to his girlfriend, cosplayer Esther Lynn.

Sneaky’s modeling has earned quite a sizable following from both men and women, but the two genders’ responses are vastly different. More often than not, men thirst post over Sneaky abrasively. They post memes involving boners, question their sexuality, or joke that they’re feeling turned on.

While some women post similar memes, most respond in a much more polite and affirming way. These range from cute response GIFs celebrating his crossplay to tweets honoring the hard work that Sneaky and Lynn put into his modeling. Women are more likely to call Sneaky “cute” or “beautiful,” too.

In fact, it can be hard to tell whether women are thirsty for Sneaky or just praising him. That’s exactly the point. The ambiguity means women that are thirst posting for Sneaky blend right in with everyone else, and they’re less likely to be seen as creepy or aggressive. They skirt the line between “thirsty” and “playful” extremely well.

In 2018, it’s okay to be thirsty on the internet. We’ve learned to embrace it. But thirst posting is an art form. You can’t just tweet about the “attractive 22-year-old girl” on the subway. Nor can you jump into an esports player’s Twitter mentions and tell him that he’s giving you a boner. That’s just creepy and weird. You have to consider who’s reading your feed, how it could impact you, and whether you’re grossing out the person on the other side.

With great horniness comes great responsibilities, as the late Stan Lee would say. Women and queer folks seem to have it down. Straight men, on the other hand, could use some time to refine their skills before 2019.

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Ana Valens

Ana Valens

Ana Valens is an LGBTQ reporter and essayist for the Daily Dot. Her work has previously appeared in Bitch, the Establishment, Vice's Waypoint, Rolling Stone's Glixel, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.