A Pornography Sea Change

I’ve spent the last year working on a book to help men struggle against the temptations of pornography and other sexual sins. After a full year, I feel like I’m climbing a huge mountain yet still only nearing the first basecamp. There’s such a long way to go.

There are many reasons why I’ve made this a priority for research and writing, but for starters let me mention this: the issues in culture and in our churches related to pornography abuse are only going to increase as technology becomes more advanced and pornography becomes more abundant. In fact, pornography has driven much of the technological advancements we now enjoy in hundreds of other, nobler applications.

We are experiencing a sea change. Think about this with me. The Playboys of old were largely inaccessible to young men, save when some kid nabbed a few of them from his father or uncle’s secret stash. Those who were old enough to purchase pornography for themselves could only do so by pushing through the stigma associated with buying a magazine wrapped in plastic behind the counter. Maybe not a big hurdle, but it was something.

Not to mention this too—even once obtained, these images were still shots, motionless images. Videos, of course, existed, but again with the accessibility issues. Cable television companies offered upgrades for channels so homes could get stations such as Cinemax, which my friends called Skinemax, but apart from the occasionally free promotional weekend or a visit to someone’s house that had it, again it was mostly inaccessible.

And let’s talk about the videos themselves. Often, so I’m told, there were attempts at plot and characterization and story. Cheesy as the porn movies might have been, they were more than just bodies slapping together.

Now, however, via smartphones and nearly ubiquitous Wi-Fi and high-speed Internet, all manner of pornographic images are available to me in seconds—millions and millions of photos: affordable, accessible, and anonymous. If I get bored with one picture or website, I go to another. And another. Miss January, Miss February, and Miss March separated, not by 31 days, but by the millisecond it takes to swipe my thumb right. Then, if I want, I can switch porn genres. And even if I don’t want to, the Internet-linking techniques and pop-up windows will push me to do so, and do so with increasing explicitness.

This inexhaustible supply goes for videos too, except they are not the same movies as before. Instead, like heroin that has been boiled down to an exponentially more concentrated form, the videos that are now streamed over high-speed Internet have been cropped to include only their most explicit content. Clip, after clip, after clip, after clip of nothing but bodies slapping together.

Affordable, accessible, anonymous, abundant, and addictive.

See what I mean. The world has not yet begun to see the effects of this sea change. 

[Picture by Dennis Cortés / Unsplash]