Coronavirus Is Changing the Rules of Internet Horniness

Between Instagram porn and thirst traps on Twitter, the “horny on main” movement has never been stronger

20th-century etiquette authority Amy Vanderbilt with some guidelines for quarantine horniness.

By Kayla Kibbe

On Sunday night I became overwhelmed by the desire to post nudes on Instagram.

Feeling bored and having foolishly exhausted my entire collection of nudes on my standard rotation of sext partners during week one of quarantine, I thought, “Hey, why not just broadcast those nudes to friends, family, exes, one-time Tinder dates and my high school English teacher in an obviously desperate bid for attention on social media?”

Reader, I did not post the nudes, though I do sincerely hope at least a few of you just checked. Instead, like any person who’s not quite hot enough to post nudes on Instagram, I decided to tweet about it.

“I’m two glasses of wine and one more depressing headline away from posting nudes on Instagram,” I wrote, wondering but not particularly caring if anyone would understand what I was getting at. Seeing it all written out, it did seem like a bit of a non sequitur; one of these things is not like the other. What exactly does coronavirus have to do with posting nudes?

Fortunately, six loyal followers signaled their understanding with a Like, among them MEL magazine staffer Magdalene Taylor, who went on to tweet her own set of thirst-trappy pics a few hours later, writing, “thotting on main is permissible during quarantine.”

A state of grief, boredom and terror of the unknown, quarantine is the world’s collective post-breakup depression, and right now we are all somewhere in the stage between crying and formulating an ambitious plan for radical self-reinvention when you just sort of start acting out. We’re cutting our own bangs, we’re re-downloading our dating apps, and we’re being horny on main with a newfound reckless abandon.


Related: The Word “Horny” Means Something Different Now


For the uninitiated, to be horny on main means to post sexual or sexually adjacent content — be it sexy pictures, thirsty comments on someone else’s pictures, randomly lusty monologues about political candidates, etc. — on a social-media platform or in a context in which that kind of content is not typically expected.

The rules vary, and what Twitter may consider a shameless display of horniness on main may be run-of-the-mill on Instagram, but in general, an accusation of being horny on main is something to be avoided. However, that was in a distant, pre-pandemic era. As the codes of a social order we once assumed absolute rapidly unravel in our current state of coronavirus chaos, so too do the largely unspoken rules of social-media etiquette.

“All the rules are different now. Time doesn’t matter. The home is the office. You’re allowed to post sexy photos on any social media site,” tweeted comedian Ginny Hogan before posting a leggy bathroom mirror selfie that, in our previous social order, probably would have made its home on Instagram.

“Horny twitter has now merged with main because quarantine has left us shaken and stirred,” echoed YouTuber Sarah Schauer. “I’ve never seen more porn on main before 10 pm in my life,” she added, while self-identified “sometimes writer” Cari Hernandez has estimated that “the quarantine is causing people [to] reach levels of horny on main previously thought impossible by scientists.”

A long-running paradox at the heart of horny social-media etiquette holds that while Instagram (a platform where people are invited to masquerade as cooler, hotter versions of themselves) is generally more accepting of sexy thirst-trap posts than Twitter (a platform where people are encouraged to be performatively miserable), the latter has less restrictive policies on nudity and otherwise sexually explicit content. What this typically means is that while Instagram is a safe haven for sexy bikini pics and tastefully censored nudes, actual porn tends to thrive best in certain corners of Twitter.

But even those rules no longer hold strictly true! Over the weekend, author and content creator Elexus Jionde pointed out that Instagram appears to have relaxed its infamously aggressive stance against sexually explicit content due to a lack of moderators.

“Apparently it’s the Wild West over on Instagram right now because nobody can review shit. Sex workers go prosper,” she tweeted along with a screenshot of a message from Instagram explaining that the platform is currently only reviewing content “with the most potential for harm.”

These are truly lawless times. There are thirst traps on Twitter, porn on Instagram, who knows what kind of horny shit might be going down on LinkedIn right now, and the prudes over at Facebook aren’t even trying to stop us.

If I could extend one piece of advice to you and to my two-days-younger self in these chaotic times, it would be this: Life as we know it is ending. Just post the nudes.