Love & Sex

A Brilliant Twitter Project Lets You Competitively Sext With Strangers

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Sexting for the win.

Now you can sext strangers on the internet in the name of art, thanks to a genius Twitter project called The Sext Exchange. Sexting is a creative act, after all. Is it not sad —a little sad? —when you craft something really good and then only one person reads it? (Yes.)

That’s where The Sext Exchange comes in. Here’s how it works: using your Twitter, you follow @sextexchange and wait for them to follow you back. Then you send it a direct message, beginning with “sext:.” As in, “sext: If this were a “Who Should I Be Fucking quiz on BuzzFeed I’d get you every time.” Or. “sext: name your cat after me." A few minutes after you make your first move, the bot sexts you back with a message from another (anonymous) user who’s participating in the project. If you like your sext, you reply with a “:)” or a “yes,” which helps the author get on the Exchange’s leaderboard of premier sexters. It’s like a chain letter, but more fun, because, among other things, you elected to participate in it, and it's also competitive. Additionally, sexting is funny.

The project is the brainchild of Portland-based developer Brendan Adkins (with inspiration, he says, from comedian and poet Patricia Lockwood). On the Exchange’s website, he describes it as “a constrained writing experiment/sex robot.” And so far, Adkins tells Kate Conway at xoJane, he’s pretty excited about the results. “Everyone involved is really GOOD at it,” he says. The sexts, in general, are "really beautiful, odd, hilarious, poignant, and frankly hot…sometimes all at once.” There’s a flagging mechanism in place, of course, but of the 2,000 plus messages, only five have been marked for review. The @sextexchange Twitter bio says “be careful, be generous, be kind,” Adkins explains, and people are (miraculously) taking that seriously.

So what’s it like to get a sext from a community-controlled sex robot? Pretty fun, it turns out. “Even though I knew that this was a ‘robot’ transmitting fake sexts to me,” one Sext Exchanger told me, “I still got the giddy feeling you get when someone compliments you.” Which I can confirm: I didn’t understand the sext I got back (it was, I think, a World of Warcraft joke?), but that didn’t matter — it was like getting a present anyway. The fact that the present wasn’t particularly for me was beside the point. This isn’t about deep feelings, this is about craftsmanship.

And also, maybe, about validation: as Conway points out that when you sext, even anonymously as part of an art project, you’re “essentially inscribing your own sexuality onto these messages.” When people upvote your notes, it feels good. You’re funny, you’re smart, you’re sexy! You made yourself vulnerable, and you won. At least, according to one anonymous person on the internet.

Image via tyle_r