Saturday, January 12, 2013

bad trade

don't do it

Pornography is bad for you, son. There's nothing at all wrong with sex (although it can get complicated), but pornography is bad. Masturbation is fine. Fantasy is fine. Pornography is bad. Don't do it. Let's just leave it at that, OK? If I catch you looking at pornography I'll... tell your mother ...I'll blog about it.

Substances and behaviors can be innate, habit forming, addictive, or habituating. The drives to sleep, eat, and sex, are innate; part of the human condition, and in my opinion, to be celebrated. Repeated behaviours like buckling you seatbelt, brushing your teeth, or cracking your knuckles can become habits; good or bad. Certain substances, like nicotine in cigarettes or morphine in heroin are addictive; they create a physical craving for more which often cannot be controlled. Addictive substances are usually also habituating; your body gradually requires more of the substance to reach the same level of satisfaction. This is why many drugs are so harmful: they generate uncontrollable cravings for ever more quantities, eventually taking over your life.

Pornography is not a drug. But it is habituating. It's a combination of an innate drive for sexual arousal and a habituating stimulus. Habituation of sexual arousal works differently than habituation of drugs. With drugs, we want more; with arousal, we want different. Compare it to habituation of another innate drive: hunger. We must eat, and we will eat, but we enjoy to eat tasty new things. Tasty new things are a sensual treat. But a constant diet of the same treat, no matter how tasty, leads not to enjoyment, but boredom and worse: dissatisfaction and sadness because you have lost one of life's great pleasures. This loss of pleasure happens because of the lack of newness, of interesting unexpectedness in your diet.

Now, imagine an app that let you experience the tastes of eating without actually consuming any food. Imagine it really was pleasurable to taste ice cream or chocolate, or chilis or poisonous blowfish or chargrilled panda steak with this app. Would you use it? The danger would be that you would become so habituated to exotic simulated tastes that you lost your ability to enjoy real foods. As your pleasure in real dinners disappeared, you would also lose a great part of your enjoyment of dinner parties with real people. You would have lost your ability to enjoy some of life's great pleasures. You traded them for an fake. Bad trade.

And it's the same deal with pornography. When you look at pornography the effects of habituation dulls your senses, reducing your ability to enjoy real sexual experience.

As you look at pornography over time, you will need to look at different types of pornography in order to reach the same levels of arousal.  To maintain your interest, you will find yourself always searching for something new. And eventually, this leads to pornography in which women are treated as unfeeling objects, or slaves, or humiliated victims, or animals, or any variety of unrealistic or immoral scenes. And you will become habituated to these scenes, and you will lose some of your ability to enjoy real sex, and generally, you will die inside.

Bad trade, my son.

If you prefer less introspective fare, my other blog is for the more practical and professionally-minded reader

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