NSFW?

The challenges of being horny on main and fucking around in the uncanny valley of professionalism

Chris Messina
Chris Messina
Published in
13 min readJul 8, 2019

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Setting the scene

Why did Chris Messina and Sonya Mann have a conversation about sexuality and social norms? Before now, the two had never even chatted online. Why discuss such a taboo topic and then publish their private exchange?

Because they’re both interested in cultural change. Societal and communal expectations are always in flux, driven by complex, iterated feedback loops of behavior and reaction. Figuring out what is acceptable to say in public, or what is acceptable to say in a particular context, amounts to a Keynesian beauty contest: To maintain your reputation, you need to make accurate informed guesses about what other people will sanction.

But what if you’re willing to pay a strategy tax? (“Strategy tax” is a term that Sonya learned from Ben Thompson, who defines it as “anything that makes a product less likely to succeed, yet is included to further larger corporate goals.”) If you want to change social norms, then maybe you’re willing to take a hit to your personal status in order to normalize behavior that is currently considered deviant.

Arguably, that’s what Chris decided to do when he changed his Twitter bio. The previous, anodyne version:

Hashtag inventor & product designer. Previously: @Google, @Uber, @YCombinator W’18. On a mission to make myself useful. ♥️

The updated, provocative version:

Hashtag inventor & product designer. ♥️ On a mission to give my beautiful partner the most orgasms she’s experienced in one day. 👉🏻http://bit.ly/sex-in-bio

Chris’s Twitter profile with updated bio

This was a radical change, to say the least. People noticed, and reactions were mixed, but mostly negative. At first it wasn’t clear that Chris’ partner had okayed the disclosure — Chris had to clarify that it was her idea in the first place. But the baffled, semi-outraged commentary didn’t stem from concerns for her privacy (or at least most of it didn’t). Primarily, people considered it bizarre and inappropriate to talk about orgasms on an ostensibly “professional” Twitter account.

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Chris Messina
Chris Messina

Inventor of the hashtag. Product therapist. Investor. Previously: Google, Republic, Uber, On Deck, YC W’18.