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  • In the sand, on the ground, hanging off a sofa - the #1 cliche'd image on instagram right now is pictures of feet. There are more than 1,015,000 photos tagged #feet, and that does not include the ones that are not tagged, tagged something else, or all of the ones I'm seeing on Facebook almost everyday.

    "Oh God. No more toes" I mutter to my husband, scrolling through my newsfeed for about 30 seconds until I've had enough.

    "It's summer, after all" he shrugs. "Let me see" he says, he who has a bit of a foot fetish himself.

    Feet are fascinating. I can post a picture of my feet and not come across as overly provocative. But if I posted a shot of say, cleavage, or my bikini clad bottom, well now, that's a little too much, isn't it? You might say I have a problem, even, and I'd have to agree. Of course it's all just skin, really, and it's as easy to look down and take a photo of cleavage as it is to focus on toes. It's a little trickier to get a good shot of my bum (anymore) for lots of reasons... but nevermind, 'cause either way, I wouldn't do it, and I doubt you would too. Doing so would cross an invisible cultural boundary:

    Feet = sweet. Cleavage = slut.

    This notion inspired me to do a little research on foot fetishes. It's hard to find concrete data, but some suggest 20-40% of men are turned on by women's feet. (Note that it's exclusively women posting photos of their feet. I have yet to notice a man do likewise, unless he's being ironic.) The range of attraction is wide, from the most benignly innocent ("I appreciate pretty toes") to pretty perverse (oh no, I'm not even telling you....but trust me, after what I read? You don't want these guys staring in the dark, at the screen, at your toes.)

    Quick calculation: 20-40% of my 500+ FB friends equates to 100-200 people in my audience who might have a foot fetish. Really? If this could be true, do I really want to be potentially jazzing up that many dudes with photos of my griege painted nuggets? Would I ever do that in person? Wiggle my toes in their faces (faces I wouldn't even recognize, actually, 'cause no one can know by sight all of their 500 friends on facebook) and say "cute, right?"

    "Um no, not when you put it that way. That sounds sick."

    And it would be. Considered odd, a little off, sick.

    So, what if I just said "enough of the toes, stop turning on the foot fetishists" or "enough of the naked little kid shots at the beach, stop turning on the pedophiles?" No one wants to hear that. (No one that doesn't work in a school and has had mandatory sexual abuse prevention training, that is. Or no one that doesn't do cursory research on fetishes, just for fun. Freaks like us.)

    People think you sound paranoid when you say things like that, and you are really, truly wrecking their buzz. They are just having fun! What's the big deal? No one likes to be told that they have predators and perverts in their midst. That we all do. And that the odds are they are among your friends on facebook.

    I'm not into moralizing, and believe wholeheartedly that anyone can do as they wish. But I think it's important to realize the "why" behind the way we act.

    It's occurred to me that we women share, share, share our brains out - primarily to turn people on. Without even realizing it, we do it, because the power of "ta-da!" and getting all those likes, those cute little thumbs up, is like crack. Sexual attention and external validation are drugs in a culture like ours that values youth, beauty and wealth above nearly all else.

    Our cute feet, our cute little kids, our cute and smirking smiles. Our photos of trips to don't-you-wanna-go-too? It is all kind of cute to a point, but once you've hit the threshold of posting 50+ trip photos or lifecasting every. single. thing. you are doing on a daily basis, one has to wonder...

    Zuckerberg is the profiteering pusher behind it all, laughing his way to an offshore bank with money made through our incessant postings which reveal an awful lot to advertisers - a lot more about who we are than we'd ever care to share if we really connected the dots. He's laughing, headed off to some island he probably now owns.

    To poke his own toes in the sand.

    So alas, as we approach the last month of summer I'm thinking about my annual unplugging. This year I've made a commitment to resist the urge to post those choice little vacation or just-because-it's-summer shots on facebook. The silent (and hopefully benign) admirers in my midst might miss me but not for long because I've realized another cold, harsh fact too - I'm not really that important. And neither are you. Scroll down and you'll see for yourself - there are 30+ other friends' similar images off which the hungry can feed.

    And their toes might even be cuter than yours.
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