Self abuse
June 27, 2003 1:53 PM   Subscribe

Must not click ... must not click ... oh hell. ".. marry the infinite porn resources of the Net to the endlessness of male sexual desire, underpin it with consumer culture, and men can end up practically frigging themselves to death." Sean Thomas in the UK Spectator 'fesses up to porn addiction. It's a real, new and hidden problem which landed him in hospital. What to do?
posted by grahamwell (60 comments total)

 
frigging themselves to death?
I didn't even know that men could even 'frig' themselves. Much less to death. Why did no one tell me?!

There are much better euphemisms for masturbating.
posted by graventy at 1:58 PM on June 27, 2003


It's like those Toad the Wet Sprocket folks sang... "desire feeds desire." This isn't the only human appetite that can get out of hand if it's not managed wisely, but it's sure one of the easiest.
posted by namespan at 2:05 PM on June 27, 2003


Wow. Sadly, this piece resonates with me. I find myself mindlessly quicking away at porn images at work until my carpal tunnel flares up. Next thing I know, it’s time to go home. Fortunately I have an office. Unfortunately I can’t just close the door and lay waste to myself. Because if I could, I’d stop looking at porn for half an hour or so and actually earn a few bucks.

I have a feeling we might find things out about each other in this thread that we’re better off not knowing.
posted by vito90 at 2:05 PM on June 27, 2003


Perhaps rather than blaming porn, we should instead look at the inability of most socieites that are 'wired' to address male sexuality in a way that's open, healthy, and free of homophobic/homoerotic/feminist fallout stigma.

But that'll never happen. Bring on the amateur straight guys!
posted by WolfDaddy at 2:08 PM on June 27, 2003


Perhaps rather than blaming porn, we should instead look at the inability of most socieites that are 'wired' to address male sexuality in a way that's open, healthy, and free of homophobic/homoerotic/feminist fallout stigma.

That's crazy talk. I say we give out faux vaginas to everyone! Hurrah!
posted by The God Complex at 2:14 PM on June 27, 2003


I wouldn't say that porn addiction is a new problem, just intarweb porn addiction. Porn addiction has probably been around as long as porn has and is really an offshoot of sexual addiction.

SA is a real problem for many men in society. One of my good friends is earning his Masters in Psychology and has been working with a SA group for a couple of years now. It's very similar to AA or NA with some men that have supressed some of their nastier urges and some men that are looking for help. Their problems range from something as simple as internet porn to complete voyeurism or exhibitionism. The only people not allowed in the group are rapists and child molesters. Most of the men are well off and are married and/or have children. It's a very taboo addiction to talk about (comparatively) which of course leads to further shame and embarassment, leading many men to struggle with it their entire lives without reaching out for any form of help.

The easy and private access of the web has probably led many men that had dormant sexual addictions into more active ones, but this is hardly a new facet of life.

That said, I'm glad to see it pop up for discussion in a forum such as MeFi.
posted by Ufez Jones at 2:18 PM on June 27, 2003


Wolfdaddy,
What was that middle part again?
posted by lometogo at 2:18 PM on June 27, 2003


What to do?

It's pretty simple actually. People with addictive personalities find they become addicted to the most random things. Some things are board games, some things are alcohol, some are sex.

Should we outlaw anything because a few addictive types did themselves harm? No, instead we should recognize addicts that need help and get them helped.

BTW, I've come to the above conclusion after hearing backlash from people addicted to video games and internet porn -- the newly cured go on rampages to eliminate their addictions from the earth for everyone else because they have a problem with it, and I never thought that was fair to the other 99% of people that have no problem knowing when to quit.
posted by mathowie at 2:20 PM on June 27, 2003


How much of this is due to the content, and how much of it is due to the fact that one is acquiring, for free, what normally would require a cash transaction at a physical location in person?

Obviously porn is not without addictive elements, but the I think the free nature of the internet breeds a "must collect" mentality - witness music sharing, file sharing, etc. At one point I had something like twenty different cracked video games that I never played, but you can bet I was damn proud that I had them.
posted by cohappy at 2:21 PM on June 27, 2003


Perhaps rather than blaming porn, we should instead look at the inability of most socieites that are 'wired' to address male sexuality in a way that's open, healthy, and free of homophobic/homoerotic/feminist fallout stigma.

Wait, so we should keep the door open instead?

My friend has some good/bad stories about an ex-member of his band whipping his, er, member out in the middle of parties and "friggin" away.

No one applauded for his open and healthy sexual freedom. They told him to go into the bathroom and shut the door.

He didn't shut the door, either.
posted by cinderful at 2:21 PM on June 27, 2003


Some would argue that addiction doesn't really exist - that it is merely a choice.

Like say, the 80%+ of Vietnam solider who used heroine while in the field and quit cold turkey without relapses as soon as they returned home.
posted by cinderful at 2:27 PM on June 27, 2003


cinderful, you misinterpreted my remarks, and your implication that a man who's comfortable with his sexuality means that man will masturbate in front of his nearest and dearest--whether they want him to or not--is an extremely juvenile assumption to make.

Which is part of the larger problems addressed by the linked articles. Male sexuality, education about it, and encouragement of it, is frequenly condemned to the realm of the juvenile.
posted by WolfDaddy at 2:28 PM on June 27, 2003


Reminds me of a song

"Well you tried it just for once found it all right for kicks
but now you found out that it's a habit that sticks"

posted by Akuinnen at 2:29 PM on June 27, 2003


" ... instead we should recognize addicts that need help and get them helped

I agree, yet I suspect porn addicts have it tougher than others, since addiction to - for example - alchohol starts out as a social activity. The point where it crosses into a destructive addiction is easier to spot. A quick google search for organisations opting to help porn addicts revealed some confusion and a preponderance of 'christian' sites with their own particular take.

I can't help wondering if real effective help is available. It should be, but all kinds of taboo stand in the way.
posted by grahamwell at 2:32 PM on June 27, 2003


I once lived in a large house in SF with several roommates, one of whom I dearly wanted to kick out for being a slob. I knew he had a bit of a porn habit. Maybe it was the suitcase of dog-eared magazines he often left open on his bedroom floor that tipped me off.

After coming home from a vacation and examining my browser cache, I realized I had him. I had the only computer in the house, and DSL to boot. He hadn't been able to keep his mitts to himself (or off himself) while I was away. I didn't say anything to him, of course, until we were deep in an argument about how he needed to move out. He thought that if I didn't like him, I should leave myself. But when I did finally pull my ace out of the hole and confronted him about using my computer for porn, he folded, and agreed to leave. The fact that this confrontation took place in the presence of our 3rd roommate, a female, probably clinched his giving in.

Anyway, the moral: only the internet provides the boundless quantity the true addict requires. This fool (a middle school teacher, I might add) wound up losing the roof over his head because he wasn't content with a suitcase of porno mags. Porn junkies want new material constantly. The internet has simply removed the financial limit paper porn presented, and sanitized the process of trading with your friends.
posted by scarabic at 2:35 PM on June 27, 2003


Cinderful-
A great deal of addiction is the circumstances and surroundings. The soldiers were doing heroin, and were probably quite addicted. But when they changed their environment, they avoided most of their cravings.

This is why many rehabilitation programs don't work. They are based in an area that isn't the person's home and area where they do drugs or alcohol. The person gets clean and goes home. Where all their friends are doing it, they remember doing it, and they still have all the environmental clues that tell them that whatever drugs they were on are here. And then people tend to relapse.
posted by stoneegg21 at 2:35 PM on June 27, 2003


I can't help wondering if real effective help is available. It should be, but all kinds of taboo stand in the way

I think it's a pretty standard flavor of addiction and previous work can apply to a good lot of it.

Basically you need to get people to disconnect from the web for a while, get rid of their computer, and come back when they can handle it. It's not too different in the big picture sense that an alcoholic or drug addict faces. You need to get those people away from their addictive substances and teach them not to use and abuse them ever again.

I'm grossly simplifying here, but I keep running into addicts in my life and they all seem to have a lot in common. They seem to have similar personality types and control issues. I don't see a big difference between a relative that is an alcoholic and one that sits and plays a video game all day.
posted by mathowie at 2:47 PM on June 27, 2003


(All of this is IMHO, so there...)
The thing diferentiates PA/SA from other additions is the saturation of sexually charged images throughout society. Say you've got the addiction, and so you get rid of your Internet connection and your computer. What's next? Your TV? All magazines? Not go out in public for fear of seeing a Stuff, Maxim, FHM cover, or the latest Beer billboard? Everywhere you go (really not trying to sound like a prude) there are pictures of mostly undressed women, which can make it very difficult to cope. And coping and controlling is all you have...

My 2 cents.
posted by internal at 2:47 PM on June 27, 2003


"Must not click ... must not click ... oh hell. ".. MetaFilter addiction, and its counterpart, MetaTalk addiction. Only partly kidding. Metafilter is way more interesting than, say, work.
posted by theora55 at 3:11 PM on June 27, 2003


"The insatiable nature of male sexuality means that it has to be curtailed."

i think he's wrong. maybe confronted, analyzed, and debated perhaps, but why curtailed? why is it any different than eating? (maybe this is a semantic beef - i would have been fine with "moderated")

i think the big reason why sex/porn addiction is a growing problem is because of the continued discrimination (mostly religious-based) against non-mainstream sexual values.

imho, the "oh my god what i'm doing is so wrong" factor generally is the root of the psychological spiral of taboo-inspired desire and descent, i.e. "it's so wrong, but i *want* to do it, so i must be evil, oh fuck it, let's look at some more porn anyway, i'll quit tomorrow, oh i don't really want to it, but i'm *supposed* to want to quit," etc.

i like pornography/erotica, especially high-quality stuff. in lots of ways, it's an art like most others. there are just certain fringe benefits associated with the genre ... ;)
posted by mrgrimm at 3:17 PM on June 27, 2003


The thing diferentiates PA/SA from other additions is the saturation of sexually charged images throughout society

An insightful observation about triggers. There are actually triggers for lots of addictions everywhere you look, though.

Alcohol in particular is everywhere. It's at the altar in church, it's at every social function you're likely to attend, it's at every restaurant. James Bond likes his shaken not stirred, Miller Lite tastes great but is less filling, and everyone knows your name at Cheers.

It's getting easier to be an ex-smoker in California now. There's not a lot of smoking going on at first glance. But I know it wasn't always that way. I'm not sure I would have been able to quit if people were smoking in my office and in every bar and restaurant.
posted by scarabic at 3:26 PM on June 27, 2003


amen to internal.

it has to be confusing and frustrating to think it's ok to look at semi-naked girls who look 16 selling beer for Coors, and it's not ok to see semi-naked 18-year-olds spanking each other with cheese.

for pure titillation, most fashion magazines (W, Cosmo, Mademoiselle, etc.) are as erotic to me as most pornography.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:28 PM on June 27, 2003


People with addictive personalities find they become addicted to the most random things.

While I think personality plays a role, I've always thought that addiction had something to do with trying to feed a need with the wrong things. For example, I noticed my freshman year of college that I often had this weird compulsion to eat, and I was generally eating too much. One night I realized that I wasn't *hungry* I was *tired* and I'd somehow gotten signals crossed. I started taking care to sleep more and the compulsion went away.

Under this model of addiction (purely anecdotal, of course), your behavior is perpetuated because you can't get enough of the wrong thing to satisfy the actual need. There's no way to eat yourself out of sleep deprivation. There's no way to play enough board/video games so that you're succesful enough at real-life pursuits that being succesful in a distraction isn't appealing.

Of course, like namespan and the article pointed out, for some things, desire just feeds desire, and this model doesn't work as well.
posted by weston at 3:31 PM on June 27, 2003


semi-naked 18-year-olds spanking each other with cheese.

You know, before you mentioned that I had no idea it would turn me on so much.
posted by Ty Webb at 3:38 PM on June 27, 2003


The thing differentiates PA/SA from other additions is the saturation of sexually charged images throughout society.

Many vices/addictions have their own particular omnipresence: you can get liquor pretty much in every corner.

Wanking yourself to the hospital while having a girlfriend is quite an amazing feat. There's probably no silver bullet against these extremes, but that detail does remind me of the classic philosophy of whores: if women paid more attention to their men, there wouldn't be prostitutes in the first place. That's obviously too biased, but I would say that even the most robotic wanker out there ends up wondering why is he not doing it with his girlfriend more often way before the idea of visiting the doctor "to have a look" even needs to be formed. The mosaic of possibilities around this alone appears quite complex.

Of course, that still leaves plenty of cases open (those without sexual partners and those in the closet, among the simpler ones). Also, is it a guy thing?
posted by magullo at 3:52 PM on June 27, 2003


i think it's definitely a guy thing. i've never heard of any women with porn dependencies (as for sexual problems though, i think they've got just as many), unless you count romance novel buffs.

i think it's mostly b/c men still have much more sexual power and freedom than women do. sexual development is fairly segregated. do schools still teach same-sex-only sex ed classes, btw? that always seemed dumb.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:24 PM on June 27, 2003


You know, before you mentioned that I had no idea it would turn me on so much.

"I had not the slightest idea that I was that into cheese spanking. The next day I went on to Google and started searching out more cheese-spanking-rich websites."

be careful, Ty. don't slice off more than you can chew. ;)
posted by mrgrimm at 4:28 PM on June 27, 2003


Too late, I'm already hooked. Mmmm, havarti...
posted by Ty Webb at 4:29 PM on June 27, 2003


scarabic: Boot passwords are your friends
posted by delmoi at 4:31 PM on June 27, 2003


"A recent MSNBC.com survey found that as many as 80 percent of visitors to sex sites were spending so much time tracking down erotica on the computer that they were putting their real-life relationships and/or jobs at risk."

Everyone now knows that online surveys are at best sketchy as hell and at worst a waste of time. I would click on the worst sounding choice in a sex survey just for kicks.
posted by Keyser Soze at 4:35 PM on June 27, 2003


Would you Keyser? Would you? Or do you have a problem?
It's all right to admit it. We're all friends here. We'll find someone to help you, and Ty, with your problems.
posted by graventy at 4:43 PM on June 27, 2003


The internet has made access to porn much easier. You don't need to go to the seedy adult video store or ask for the dirty mags behind the counter.

With a few keystrokes [pun intended] you can find whatever your kink is... and as Akuinnen's quote of the Buzzcocks song, it can be a habit that sticks.

When I think of addiction, I think of a movie I saw in grade school of a mouse that had a probe connected to the pleasure center of the brain. The mouse just needed to push the button to experience pleasure. The mouse held that button down and died. I know if I had a button like that, I'd probably end up the same way.
posted by birdherder at 4:43 PM on June 27, 2003


solider who used heroine

is that a pun?
posted by Hackworth at 5:07 PM on June 27, 2003


I know if I had a button like that, I'd probably end up the same way.

After a tragic, but amusing, accident left me in the hospital for a bit, I had a pain killer button. I pressed that thing all the time...just on the off chance it was time for more happy drugs. Selective reinforcement at it's finest.
posted by dejah420 at 7:48 PM on June 27, 2003


Well I think it was a brave and honest article, and while I'm not about to see a sweeping societal maelstrom in one self-reported and thoroughly anecdotal tale, I do think there's something different about the shape of my own desire since discovering net porn.

It has gotten more baroque, and it was baroque to begin with. It has started exploring ever more abstruse reaches of possibility-space. And this, mind you, is for someone whose exposure to online porn is probably toward the lower reach of the scale - maybe a one-hour descent every couple of months.

I think porn itself has changed, is part of the reason. At my first exposure to it, if I recall correctly, porn more or less equalled "pictures of people fucking," and those people were one skanky-looking white blonde woman and one mulleted, mustachio'd white male. The bells and whistles lay ten or fifteen years in the future.

But then came relatively cheap, available video cameras. And then, oh lord, the Web. And ten million pervs bloomed.

It's like Alice's Restaurant: like the article points out, if you can imagine a fetish or a niche taste, there's a site devoted to it. That you may never in a hundred years have imagined the given fetish in question doesn't mean that there isn't a population out there in the world avid enough to support a commercial operation devoted to it. But the cost of entry, as it were, is so low that there's nothing to keep you from clicking through, discovering ever newer and more marginal kinks, and adding them to your vocabulary.

And it does affect the imagination. Whether it enriches or impoverishes the imagination I can't yet say. I do know a few words and names I'd rather I didn't - "Rocco Siffredi" is one that springs to mind - but I've also been moved to try things that I wouldn't have otherwise. And you know what? They felt gooood, for all parties involved.

Yeah: you're going "ick, ick" right about now. There's no way to have this conversation that isn't either unbearably coy or at perpetual danger of infringing the "TMI" boundary. But chrissakes, I'm glad someone has moved to break the hypocrisy that still shrouds any, uh, adult discussion around pornography and desire and responsibility.

Like mathowie sez: the trigger images are everywhere, and like mrgrimm sez, the social conventions as to what constitutes a filthy pr0nographic image and what constitutes a perfectly acceptable Pepsi ad or Sears catalogue are multiplex, contradictory, overlapping and frequently sanctimonious. In a sense, then, it's unavoidable that any male (?) with Web access is going to seize up against these considerations sooner or later, and by my lights it's better to do so with honesty, self-awareness and a sense of humor.

Jeez. I didn't mean to write a novel. Guess it's a hot-button issue for me, no pun intended.
posted by adamgreenfield at 7:58 PM on June 27, 2003


"... I say we give out faux vaginas to everyone!"

Well, some of us may have special needs.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:15 PM on June 27, 2003


if women paid more attention to their men, there wouldn't be prostitutes in the first place

From this remark, I gather that you've missed the whole point of the article... the appetites which he was exploring were not, at that point, translatable into real life. It was the fantasy which overtook him, not lack of sex.

Women have powerful desires, too, you know. But we encounter a lot of that "curtailment" of desire which someone mentioned. We are aware of the consequences: we have to be. We get pregnant. We get reputations (and this may have loosened up some, but only in the West, and only in the last 30 years or so). In some places, expressing our desires is simply impossible: we're married off early, and the men of the family police the "honour" of the women. That sort of thing. Believe me, women know what it is to feel seemingly insatiable desire. I'm just saying.

Prostitutes provide untroubled, more or less consequence-free sex. It's not about women paying more attention to the men in their lives; it could be about the women wanting some attention themselves; it could be about the day to day complexities of real life relationships. But don't reduce prostitution to men feeling neglected by their wives or girlfriends and seeking comfort. This is one scenario, but there's a lot more to it than that.
posted by jokeefe at 8:47 PM on June 27, 2003


Porno don't nag.
posted by HTuttle at 10:54 PM on June 27, 2003


He had a girldfriend at the time he was addicted to pr0n? I find that very strange. What could be less interesting than looking at erotica when you are sexually satisfied? Like going out to a restaurant after a good meal. I would have thought being single would almost be a prerequisite to developing an addiction like this.


At the end of the article it is quite telling when he says that he got sick and bored of it. As a friend of mine said, "sometimes with porn, it's like OH YEAH and other times it's like meh..." (--not an exact quote--). As long as you can keep a job down, I don't think it is a problem(don't surf at work!!!)
posted by nasim at 12:40 AM on June 28, 2003


Interesting, crash, anyone tell me the difference between a Colorado vagina and a Missouri vagina?
posted by Joeforking at 2:58 AM on June 28, 2003


...didn't you click the pics? The Colorado comes with a roll of toilet paper, and tubes of Spanish Horsefly.

nnn...GIDDYAP !
/Kramer
posted by pekar wood at 5:21 AM on June 28, 2003


As we ethologists are likely to note, the quest for sexual novelty by males is hardly limited to humans; indeed, it is a big part of what being designed as a sperm delivery vehicle is about. We even have a cute - probably not apocryphal - story on the subject:

This effect has gotten the name of the Coolidge Effect from a joke about US President Calvin Coolidge. He and his wife are visiting a chicken farm and are being shown round separately by their hosts. Upon seeing a rooster, Mrs. Coolidge asks: "How often does the rooster mate?" The reply is "Nine or ten times a day, Ma'am." So Mrs. Coolidge asks: "Would you mind going to tell that to the President?"

When the President is given the message from Mrs. Coolidge he asks: "And with whom does the rooster mate 9-10 times a day?" "With a different hen each time, Mr. President." "Would you mind going to tell that to Mrs. Coolidge?"

The general problem is that pr0n attends to only part of that deep seated drive and leaves many other aspects unfulfilled. Unfortunately, through millennia of trying (and trying hard) there hasn't been much success in fulfilling it anywhere. I suspect (and this isn't trying to be a troll) that if there weren't visible evidence of women and their relationship to food, the grocery stores would never be empty.
posted by matt_wartell at 8:29 AM on June 28, 2003


I think porn itself has changed, is part of the reason

I think that's true. Certainly availability has been transformed in the last 20 years, first by the VCR (little acknowledged but massively significant engine of social change) and then PCs and the internet. Together these two created a tidal wave of piracy, much of it porn. In the UK and most countries outside the US, governments were pretty successful for years in controlling and restricting the supply of pornography. It's still not legal here to show an erect penis - but all of that has simply been blown away in the last few years and many are industriously making up for lost time.
posted by grahamwell at 8:59 AM on June 28, 2003


grahamwell, I forget who said this first, but: When virtual reality really gets going, some people are going to entirely disappear forever. Imagine a 320-lb. slob who's able to put on a William Gibsonesque tiara of electrodes and suddenly have a supermodel's eager and undivided attention. It'll be the sexual equivalent of smoking crack.
posted by alumshubby at 11:03 AM on June 28, 2003


alumshubby: that would be Dennis Miller (bottom of the page)
posted by GeekAnimator at 12:00 PM on June 28, 2003


this guy's poor girlfriend. i'd like to see an interview with her. how do women in relationships deal with this? obviously a certain amount is Natural and OK but when your partner has just spent all his sexual energy on someone else (not even another person, just images) and no longer has any for you, how does one deal with that?

i would really like to know more about the psychology of women in this situation. i'm kind of offended by magullo's assertion that the woman in question doesn't "pay enough attention" to her man (this woman is probably starving for attention). the way i see it, every human being makes choices every day about where to spend our resources - time, money, sexual energy - and i see a trend of masturbating rather than having sex with your girlfriend as a decision to spend your sexual energy on a different product altogether.

that may need clarification - i don't see porn as a substitute for sex, merely another choice that uses up the same resources. a man makes this choice and then hey, look, he can't get it up for his girlfriend 20 minutes later. the porn isn't really replacing sex for a man if he has the option to have sex anytime he wants; it's just that he decided where and how he wanted to spend his resources, and his girlfriend was not at the top of that list. there are many possible reasons for that, but i strongly doubt that all of them are that "she's a frigid cow".
posted by pikachulolita at 12:38 PM on June 28, 2003


GeekAnimator, thanks -- I'd wondered how that one came about, if it was just a meme or somebody in particular wrote it.

Of course, Claudia @ 19.95 presupposes there isn't some nifty file-sharing and anonymous posting going on, so that you can find your favorite [insert starlet or supermodel name here] fantasies on a server in the Philippines or someplace. This is all getting very Neil Stephenson-ish to me.

I remember very vaguely reading somethng where a computer scientist had actually done some back-of-the-envelope calculations and figured that the bandwidth to carry on the whole-simulacrum telepresent sex -- tactile, aural, visual, olfactory, gustatory -- was something like three billion baud. That sounds a little low; I would imagine the fidelity and granularity of the experience would increase along with greater bandwidth, too. Just think of it: "Phone sex" and "naked chat sessions" redefined.

Just let me lay down a towel here first...
posted by alumshubby at 12:58 PM on June 28, 2003


[heavy breathing]

This thread is making me soooo horny....
posted by jonmc at 1:02 PM on June 28, 2003


It is like hunger: just as you aren’t meant to wake up one day and say, ‘Oh, I’ve had 6,000 meals, I think I’ll stop eating now,’ so men aren’t meant to wake up one day and think, ‘Oh, I’ve ogled 500 girls, I think I’ll stop staring at them now.’

But you can satisfy hunger - you'll get hungry again, but that's okay. Why isn't it possible for the sexual appetite to live happily on some kind of healthy diet of stimulation?

I suspect (and this isn't trying to be a troll) that if there weren't visible evidence of women and their relationship to food, the grocery stores would never be empty.

this is a really good point, although I'm not sure it applies only to women. If people gained weight (or otherwise suffered an obvious & direct negative consequence) by excessively masturbating, perhaps it would be more likely to stay in check - although considering our society's obesity problem, that doesn't seem to be an ideal solution to the overconsumption problem to start with...

I wonder if there aren't two issues at play here, though. First is the addiction to pleasure thing, analogous to overeating or drug habits; even though too much short term pleasure can impede long term satisfaction or fulfillment, we still find it hard to turn down in favor of trying to accomplish something. And second is the boredom / ease / habit aspect of something, analogous to watching too much tv or an internet (metafilter!) addiction in general - that is, in order to avoid thinking about your life or just 'cause you can't figure out what else to do right now, you turn to an easy answer of some sort. Obviously there's overlap, and probably all addictions include both sides of this to varying degrees, but it seems like internet porn really, uh, straddles, the line.
posted by mdn at 1:10 PM on June 28, 2003


When virtual reality really gets going, some people are going to entirely disappear forever.

Man, that's right on the money... though porn will only be a part of it (a big part for certain, but...)

I think the biggest lure of Internet porn is the relative anonymity of it. You don't have to risk being seen going into one of "those" stores, you don't worry about the mailman sniggering over the brown-paper-wrapper package, Lord knows you don't have to worry about a prostitution sting (though if child porn's your bag, you sick bastard, you'd better watch your ass).

I'd also suggest that porn is far more alluring now than it ever was; the girls are far more beautiful, there are so many of them that whatever your bag is - the pristine blonde look or the tattoed, pierced rebel - there is a girl out there who fits the bill, and does things your significant other may never dream of doing... which, come to think of it, is another reason for the allure:

Lots of people would be downright embarassed to ask someone to do some of the things that we really really wish they would, the spanking or whatever it is. Particularly if you're in an established relationship with somone who just doesn't do those things, and it hadn't been an issue for you before you discovered those things, it can perhaps become an issue.

And then you're fucked because you can't get what you now want unless you're willing to jettison the girlfriend or wife or whatever and go seek out someone who will cater to your fetishes, and as matt_wartell said, in that sex is only one aspect of that deep-seated drive, those whose brain overrules their desire realize that ditching the old lady because she doesn't want you to spank her is pretty damned foolish.

And mrgrimm, I'd say that porn or spending all your time wanking to it isn't necessarily evil in and of itself, but the byproducts - in this case getting sick, or getting fired if your boss happens to pass behind you while you're surfing, the wife finding out and taking the kids and leaving - sure as hell reek of "just desserts."
posted by kgasmart at 2:20 PM on June 28, 2003


It has been legal to show an erect penis in film, video and TV in the UK for some time - it became so at the point when juries would no longer find such material obscene so the police stopped bothering to prosecute. They've even been shown on late night arthouse movies on network TV.
posted by kerplunk at 3:44 PM on June 28, 2003


Isn't it a bit dissatisfying to return to an imperfect real-world mate after you've been viewing thousands upon thousands of women who are incredibly good looking?

I mean, after being able to wank away to whatever on earth you desire in a woman, doesn't the real thing in the bed next to you, who might not have tits to die for, and / or who might be a little overweight, have a serious problem keeping your attention anymore?

Us non-model-perfect women need some lovin' too, dammit! (Hell, we put up with a lot of imperfections in the guys, so don't we deserve it?)
posted by beth at 3:48 PM on June 28, 2003


To hell with VR, think about the possibilities of direct pleasure-center stimulation.

Otherwise-flat SF writer Larry Niven called it "wireheading," didn't he, some thirty years ago - and memorably limned a subculture where people withered away to death because even unplugging for the half-minute it'd take to crawl to the refrigerator was too much.

I think he and the general direction of this conversation both are pointing at something which has until now played vanishingly little role in the daily lives of the vast majority of human beings, but will start to matter now, and will never ever let up. That is: what happens to us, what happens to our notions of self and soul, when we have easy access to the overfulfillment of our every obscurest desire?

Porn, as usual, is leading the way, though you can damn sure make an argument that the epidemic of obesity currently spreading outward from the US is a related phenomenon. You might further discern its traces in the knockoff brand-name bags and sweatshirts and suchlike you see on the places in Dakar or in Jiangmen - places you're not used to thinking of as sufficiently possessed of material abundance to support frills like silkscreened "Dolce & Gabbana" jackets.

It's coming, even without nanotechnology, and it is going to well and truly fuck all our heads unless we prepare for it.
posted by adamgreenfield at 7:18 PM on June 28, 2003


That is: what happens to us, what happens to our notions of self and soul, when we have easy access to the overfulfillment of our every obscurest desire?

That sounds right on the money... and the stuff sci-fi flicks are made of.
posted by kgasmart at 7:23 PM on June 28, 2003


Like say, the 80%+ of Vietnam solider who used heroin while in the field and quit cold turkey without relapses as soon as they returned home.

cinderful: Cite, please?
posted by Vidiot at 12:21 AM on June 29, 2003


the way i see it, every human being makes choices every day about where to spend our resources - time, money, sexual energy - and i see a trend of masturbating rather than having sex with your girlfriend as a decision to spend your sexual energy on a different product altogether.

Doesn't match my experience. At least for me, masturbation is radically different from sex and scratches completely different emotional itches. Even within a relationship making personal time to be alone is important. And why the assumption that masturbation is "spending" something on a "product"?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:39 AM on June 29, 2003


I was not blaming his girlfriend, I was blaming him for not making his girlfriend part of the solution. Despite what some people have said in the thread, in my experience you do not masturbate to a fantasy once that fantasy has been fulfilled in real life. You take it from here.
posted by magullo at 6:00 AM on June 30, 2003


"Isn't it a bit dissatisfying to return to an imperfect real-world mate after you've been viewing thousands upon thousands of women who are incredibly good looking?

I mean, after being able to wank away to whatever on earth you desire in a woman, doesn't the real thing in the bed next to you, who might not have tits to die for, and / or who might be a little overweight, have a serious problem keeping your attention anymore?
"

I dont have that problem. As KirkJobSluder said, one thing scratches one kind of itch, and the other scratches another. Yes, they are related itches, but not the same. As with most other things in life, balance and perspective seem to be the most important tools for being successful.

I love my partner, and that makes her far more compelling than any picture ever taken. As I have told her repeatedly, the sexiest thing in the world isnt a perfect rack, a perfect ass, or a perfectly perverted fuck - it's the brain, mind and soul of the person that makes me complete.

However, there are times when she isn't interested, or isn't around, or I just want to spend time with myself. I go look at pictures and movies that arouse me (i like textual erotica too, but it's harder to find stuff that meets both my subject and writing quality requirements), and then I take care of that arousal. It works for us.
posted by Irontom at 7:27 AM on June 30, 2003


magullo, disagree. I've never once wanked to a fantasy...but ten hundred times to a cherished memory. (Not, mind you, the same one every time.)

KirkJobSluder, I agree. They're about different things, their satiety is measured on different registers.
posted by adamgreenfield at 7:32 AM on June 30, 2003


adamgreenfield, you got me there. I guess I have a very active imagination and a short memory.
posted by magullo at 11:31 AM on June 30, 2003


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