Technology and Dating: Internet Porn

March 21, 2013 / by / 0 Comment
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Porn – it’s amongst the category of four letter words that lack any sort of positive connotation in nearly every context. The subject of pornography is hardly appropriate for any daily conversation, yet it is a daily advent for many people. It is an entity feared by mothers as much as the threat of a schoolyard bully. Interestingly enough, for being materially regarded as taboo, the industry generates billions of dollars every year.

The revenue figures associated with porn are widely obscured, with some non-reputable sources gauging the industry worth near $10 billion. In the early 2000s, former New York Times columnist and current New York Magazine writer, Frank Rich, created a fair amount of buzz by including this figure in a cover story, “Naked Capitalists: There’s No Business Like Porn Business.” According to Forrester Research, revenue for the industry at that time was assessed to be in the $750 million to $1 billion range. Former Forbes writer, Dan Ackman, compiled figures from other competing research groups around this same time, which led him to generate approximate industry worth to be around $3.9 billion annually.

If you conduct your own research, you will find that financial figures are all over the place. Covenant Eyes, a research firm in Michigan, compiles data from various resources into comprehensive, mostly un-biased documents that reflect a large percentage of people have viewed or regularly view porn. A landing page for their white paper directory cites estimates from several Christian researchers, among others, and the numbers mostly coincide with other reporting sources.

Regardless of what the actual figures may be, the fact is: People watch porn. Morality of the subject could be discussed for days on end, to no avail. More importantly, there are certain behavioral patterns that have been observed from people who have watched or regularly view pornography. Porn is ubiquitous, widely available and easily accessible. This means that people of every imaginable demographic are statistics in these studies. A unique situation is arising, especially amongst the youth in America; some call it “deranging” our children, which may not be completely accurate, though it is definitely changing youth.

The availability of porn is unique to the digital world where we reside today. Looking back a couple decades, technology did not offer the same capabilities. Even in the early days of the Internet, streaming movies from a website was not possible because of bandwidth availability and correlating file sizes associated with even small clips. The 1990s marked the beginning of an era for the exploration of explicit sexual content by adults and children alike, among other things, of course.

I happened across a brusque article from a young writer who chronicles an experience with porn exposure. The title of the article “Did Porn Warp Me Forever?” concurs with the speculation of supposed “experts” that porn is adversely affecting young viewers, like himself, for a variety of reasons. Reading through the writer’s expose of his experiences, many common components parallel other Millennials, as I have discovered through countless conversations with peers. His situation is not unique. Unfortunately, trying to prevent your curious child from engaging this material may be futile.

Today, there are a wide variety of tools that parents can install on their home computer that claim to effectively monitor computer activity. Of course, in the 90s, it was thought that the parental controls on AOL were sufficient for keeping youngsters away from adult themed content. Privilege my account to access material deemed acceptable for a PG-13 movie? Fine by me. Mom only knew how to moderate internet usage though AOL’s console. Another web browser solved that problem. Think my collection of files obtained from WinMX (stored beneath a maze of folders with illogical naming conventions, and further supplemented by altering file properties to Hidden) were ever discovered? No.

For every security implementation, a work around exists somehow. It shouldn’t come as a surprise if a curious 9-year-old breaches your bulletproof security provisions. Further, this content is not always directly sourced from a website, where the activity will populate in the browsing history unless deleted or configured otherwise. The author of the previously mentioned article regales the mix-discs that were distributed openly through elementary and middle schools by giving the disc a pseudonym, which enabled free discussion of the material among classmates.

Though you may not be able to keep your golden child as pure as you would like, denial is an unhealthy attitude. A couple articles have surfaced recently on Today Tech, from MSN, and a UK-based site, sofeminine, about an entrepreneur who is changing the way we look at pornography, Cindy Gallup, CEO of Make Love Not Porn. Gallup is an advocate for diluting some of the darkness of the porn market with a site dedicated to hosting videos of real people sharing intimate experiences. Her purpose is not to confront and slay the porn beast, but rather provide an alternative to raunchy Internet sex, which most would agree does not usually reflect real world situations.

Cindy Gallup and the writers who featured her work provide some insight into confronting this issue with the younger crowd. Kids are curious and will likely come across porn, either intentionally or inadvertently. This is where parenting skills are tried with the awkward “sex talk”. It’s easier said than done, but a few points must be made. As your child is already feeling some degree of shame, fueling this emotion is unproductive. What they witnessed is not real sex. This new exhilarating past time is entertaining, but it is also negatively affecting them. Because it is a hard concept for a child to fathom, relating this to something more familiar is the best way to help them gain an understanding. Sunburn is a good analogy to use:

“Remember the time you had that really bad sunburn? You were outside having fun with your friends all day. The next day, remember you couldn’t move because it hurt so badly? When you were having fun, you didn’t feel the sun burning you, did you? When you watch these videos, it hurts you, even though you don’t feel it at the time.”

In the sofeminine piece, “Make Love Not Porn: Can this woman save our sex lives?”, Gallop shares an experience in her younger years when an encounter with a young man who was clearly influenced by porn left her a little underwhelmed. The male part of the equation seemed satisfied after the encounter, but was a little shocked when she informed him that she wasn’t impressed. In a 2009 interview with Playboy, Shia LeBeouf, protagonist of the Transformers series, talked openly about his first sexual experiences. The nerve-wracking first encounter allowed him to easily default to his sexual knowledge base, which was rooted in porn. The techniques he attempted didn’t quite go as planned (or like the movies, for that matter), which resulted in an embarrassing performance.

These stories are quite common today and also correlate with other negative aspects to romantic relationships. Because sexual promiscuity is perceived to be the social norm and further supplemented with mostly fallacious arguments (e.g., citing sexual behavior patterns of creatures observed on Animal Planet) youth will engage in sexual activity more so than any other frowned upon activity. This, coupled with peer pressure that self emanates because of tall-tales shared by peers engrossing multiple flawless sexual encounters, perpetuates the mindset that amassing as many sexual partners as possible is the ultimate romantic goal.

The disassociation caused by porn will manifest in youth and continues to have residual effects later in life. Eventually, most can figure out the mechanics to good sex, even if initially stifled by the influence of porn. However, while attempting to procure as many sexual encounters as possible, an individual will lose the desire for romantic affection. It is a quest for stimulation. If you’re in your 20s and active on social media, this could not be more obvious. Very few enduring relationships are present: Rotating romantic relationships and single users, even more so, are the most common situations.

As great as technology is, it is a double-edged sword that also enables this sort of potentially unhealthy behavior. Smart phones and 24/7 access to social media present the opportunity to partake in social events at a moment’s notice. With porn instilling a jaded perception on so many, coupled with tendencies to conduct micro-conversations through text messaging (which is not conducive to building good relationship mechanics), a large demographic of confused youths has emerged.

Porn isn’t going away, as much as some members of the European Union would like it to. Some who fit the Millennial or younger demographic might have romantic problems, but we are not all completely devoid of morals. Confronting this behavior is critical to empowering a child with the skill set to build a healthy relationship at some point in their future.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

So the story goes: Art found Nick wandering downtown South Bend and he later asked Dan if we could keep him. Dan said “yes” and Nick came aboard. Nick splits his time writing for techie and working as a tech for virtualization company Cloud PC. When he’s not working, he occupies himself with music. Nick plays guitar and tinkers with other instruments – you’ll find him hanging around at local shows and occasionally jamming at various open mic nights.

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