Spencer Richard

What The Internet Has Done To My Generation (Part 2)

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Part 1 here.

This article may shock some of you, but hopefully the shock is analogous to being charged with defibrillators, which is an act of life giving, or wakefulness, as opposed to the kind of shock one experiences with a fork and a power outlet.  That being said, lets get into it.

Seven years ago there was a meta-study done on the role pornography plays when it comes to internet traffic, international revenue, and other interesting things of that nature. In 2005-06, all over the planet there were at least 28 000 people viewing pornography per second on their computers and there was nearly 100 Billion dollars (US currency) being collected in porn-industry revenue over the course of the year. The pornography industry made more than the revenues of all the top technology companies combined: Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Apple, Netflix and some company called EarthLink. Also consider: StatsCanada estimated that in Canada alone, 18-34-year-olds (in 2005) had a 90% chance of being active internet users. I have a feeling that things haven’t changed much since then and if anything, they have continued their growing trend. I’m a writer not a scientist.

Naturally, this is my segue into how it all works for people of Generation Y and why it’s somehow worth noting. Seeing as how the majority of Gen Y’ers were young adults (or bumbling confused teenagers) at the time, chances are that they’re already familiar with the subject.  Pornography is something to consider when it comes to the make-up of our collective perspective on reality. Like Part 1 of this article, it all filters down into some similarly distilled notion. Today, I’m talking about…

Instant Gratification

When it comes to sexuality, Hollywood and MTV have a fairly consistent proclamation about what constitutes your average sexual relationship. Today my fiance surfed Youtube on a whim to check out some of the latest music being released. She selected two music videos at random. It shouldn’t surprise you that they both depicted scenes of sex, one of them somewhat subtly, and the other so ostensibly that even the most ignorant of Jim Henson’s Muppets could put it together.  Sex isn’t even taboo to my generation. Strike up a conversation with almost anybody near my age and you’ll probably hear their entire confused philosophy about sex before you can say, “Back in my day…” With the kind of familiarity and persistence that our peers and the media shoves down our throat, it’s no wonder we have such a fascination with carnality.  Also, in case you didn’t know: pornography is a masturbatory aid.

I know. Somebody reading this just spat milk all over their computer screen.

Now, lets be clear: I’m not going to tell you that masturbation is bad (perhaps the only taboo of my generation is the topic of morality), but I am going to examine the psychology of such behaviour a little bit, and hopefully point something out to you that is worth some healthy cogitation. I’ll do this by painting a picture.

Imagine a young man. He’s tall, somewhat good-looking, a kind fellow, and he considers himself an exception when it comes to the treatment of ladies.  He truly believes that he would never do anything inappropriate to harm a woman, and he considers all of the women in his life as equal to him in every way—he even upholds a few habits of chivalry. He holds open doors for men and women alike, he stands to greet them at the dinner table, etc.

Also, he masturbates nearly everyday, often to the tune of some strange woman he’s never met. She fakes an orgasm on his computer screen and tomorrow it will be a different woman, and the day after that will be a different woman as well. Does anybody notice something weird going on here?

See, there is a strange dichotomy going on here in the mind of this young fellow, and in the minds of so many people on this planet you and I both know. On the one hand, he truly believes that he is an upholder of virtue, a genuine guy who does his best not to hurt people in his life or treat them indignantly. On the other hand, he routinely objectifies human beings in order to satisfy himself, perpetuating and encouraging trends in an industry that consistently reduces people to mere pieces of flesh. This young man is no oddity in our culture.

“But Spencer,” you say. “The porn-actor willingly puts herself in that position. She has no qualms about undressing in front of a camera, so why shouldn’t the young man take advantage? He’s not hurting anybody, he’s not even physically touching her.”

Good question, I say. But let me answer your question with another question: If a child had no qualms about behaving the same way as this porn-actor you describe, would it still be okay to “take advantage”? If not, why do you think that is? Is it because it’s socially unacceptable to do so, that they’re not of the age to consent (an age that differs depending on what country you’re in), or is it something to do with the fact that whether or not the child consents has nothing to do with the wrongness of the act?

Hint: It’s the last one.

Unfortunately there are people in this world who use the same logic as what you describe, and we call them pedophiles. This in an intense comparison I’m making, but I’ve chosen to make it in order for some of you to understand. I’m not saying that you’re the equivalent of a pedophile for climaxing to regular porn (if there is such a thing as regular porn), all I’m saying is that there is something intrinsically similar about the psychology of it.  Just because you view these human beings anonymously, that doesn’t make you an irresponsible participant. The anonymous member of the crowd who shouted for the death of Socrates is as responsible as the one man it took to poison him and send him walking.

I realize that the mass scale of pornography does not only affect my generation, its effects are wonderfully universal, but the fact remains that my generation is the internet-generation. Additionally, I’m aware that pornography itself has been around for quite some time. The point I intended to make when I started this article had to do with its mass scale availability through the internet, but I realize that I faltered from this somewhat. It’s hard to be succinct when there is so much to say. For this, I apologize. 1000 words just isn’t enough sometimes, but it is enough to start a conversation.

In sum: the widespread, instantaneously gratifying nature that we get from the internet pervades even our sexual desires, and my generation sees this unfolding in our culture from the front row.

The participant row.

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Spencer Richard

was once a small town columnist for THE HINTON PARKLANDER (2008-2009). Before then he performed to an unsuspecting audience of over 8,000 people during the ALBERTA WINTER GAMES in 2006. Later he had one of his own songs, ON THE WAY, produced by Black Road Records (2013) and showcased it in with an original music video. He is currently working on a couple of novels and a rap album. During the day he manages a book store in Edmonton, Alberta.

5 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I watched a very interesting documentary recently called “After Porn Ends” and it featured several former porn stars who talked about their experience in the industry. What was interesting to me was the diversity of their views and experiences on it. There was not any sort of universal theme or opinion from the lot of them. They all came from different places and went on to do different things… a few of the featured men and women ended up going back into the industry to pay their bills (and feed after their kids… another strange twist). It’s on Netflix anyway… or at least the American Netflix. I don’t know if the Canadian one has it. Anyway, I would recommend it to anyone who has thoughts about this subject.

    I wonder about the effects of sexual openness quite often. What I find myself wondering is, while I am personally kind of put off by how sexualized our culture is becoming, is the impact in fact beneficial to a society? I’m thinking of places like Japan which are notoriously open about sexual gratification (Where you can buy a “young girl’s used panties” in a vending machine) but are also– from what I’ve been told– very safe and peaceful places, with low crime rates and low sexual crime rates included. In contrast you look at certain Arab countries where women aren’t permitted to even show an inch of their skin, and you hear of some of the terrible treatment of women and the frequency of rapes in some of these countries. I hope I’m not making generalizations because I don’t really KNOW about it, my information is only based on what I have heard from other people. So that makes me wonder a bit about the impact of sexual openness. In my experience, pornography tends to eat away at one’s soul a little bit and it progressively leaves me feeling more and more lifeless and vacant of genuine emotion. I also would be inclined to think that a person’s indulgence in pornography would be more likely to INCREASE sexual crime. But the comparison of Japan and Arab places makes me think twice. Maybe getting that sexual release does something to calm our senses and make us less inclined to become sexually agitated.

    There is something about instant gratification though, as you mentioned, that I think is… destructive… No, maybe that’s not the word I am looking for. Maybe weakening is the right word. Like, patience is a virtue, you know? It’s like we can’t take things slow anymore. We can’t wait for anything in this day in age.

    • I think you touch on some important points here, I’ll have to check it out, Netflix in Canada does have it.

      The question about whether or not a culture should promote pornography is likely dependent on a dozen different dynamics, and I’m not an expert so I can’t add to that part of the conversation, unfortunately. However, I agree with you in that my instinct seems to regard this ridiculous access to pornographic materials as one of worry, rather than of welcome, particularly because of the recurring mentalities of those individuals who are involved with it.

      How addiction to pornography is so widespread and how the current state of the average mind of our young people is enough to warrant some concern. How the content of pornography continually perpetuates rape myths, for instance, is something that people don’t realize. Additionally, Gen Y in particular, I find, is quite likely to use pornography as a source of comparison with their own sexual behaviours. A friend of mine once confessed to allowing her young boyfriend at the time ejaculate onto her face “because he watched a lot of porn”. I know enough about human nature to know that this isn’t a singular case.
      In my opinion, there couldn’t be a better example of reducing a human being into a mere object to be used.

    • I think that the difference in the two cultures is that in the Arab context, sex is about a physical reality, and masturbation is uncommon, whereas in Japan the sheer anonymity of the entire experience leads to disassociation of the act from a person. For an illustration I give you the almost negligible birth rate in Japan. So distant is the thought of sexual gratification from reproduction that the Japanese government actually subsidizes pregnancies.

  • This is so true. One of my friends has pointed out a correlation between the number of people who watch porn and the growing divorce rate. It seems natural to assume that when a man watches porn he gains an unrealistic set of expectations that will negatively effect his ability to relate sexually to a woman in a committed relationship.

  • The world is telling us that sexuality is no more then a superficial, biological attribute. It can be manipulated surgically or pharmaceutically. Same sex attraction, as real as it may be, is encouraged. Being reviewed in the courts right now polygamy, father & son or daughter wanting to wed, mother & son or daughter wanting to wed, and porn as you say, Spencer, is gaining wider and wider acceptance. Further to this the world is saying to us that freedom means avoiding all commitment but, the truth is the opposite! True freedom is the ability to unite your whole being in choosing what is good, without any constraints. The sexual complementarity of man and woman – their bodily differences within a common nature – reveals their call to relationship. Male and female being two sides of the same coin sort of thing. So to voluntarily channel all one’s freedom into a total gift of self to one’s chosen spouse is the fulfillment of human freedom. Porn is the great lie and it will lead us out of relationship and into destruction.

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