Today marks Day 0 of my last of many, many, many (many) attempts at ending my porn addiction. August 22nd, 2011, 18:00 (UTC+02:00), to be exact. My goal is to go at least 6 months without porn, masturbation or orgasm (excluding sex). This is my story.
I’m a 22 year old male, and was an avid porn viewer since I was probably 10 or so years old. I was introduced to porn by Microsoft Chat (thanks Billy G) by a user who I somehow convinced (or who somehow convinced me) to e-mail me a picture of a nude woman straddling a motorbike. I can still remember the unique combination of immediate fear of being discovered, overwhelming excitement, and a strong, raunchy, hot feeling in my chest. Since then it’s been a steady decline.
I’ve started this blog because I, along with many other guys, have had enough. I’ve ‘stopped’ many times in the past, but could never manage a few days (hell, hours) without coming back for more. I will blog here when I have the urge, instead of indulging in the fantasy world of porn. It makes me accountable.
A few months ago I came across Your Brain On Porn, and after watching their two main video series’ (which I highly recommend) I immediately halted all porn viewing. I think it was very important to understand, at a neurological and physical level, why porn keeps guys (and girls!) on the hook.
Along with porn, I dropped masturbation, orgasms, sex, video gaming and hubbly smoking, all at once. Cold turkey. I lasted two months with the sex and orgasms, two and a half months with the porn and masturbation, three months with hubbly smoking (it was more an experiment anyway), and still continue to avoid regular video gaming. Since then I haven’t dropped the porn habit, which brings me today, and now.
It became clear to me, after watching those two video series’, that I suffer from something called arousal addiction. It takes on many, many forms, but for me it lay beneath the surface until porn planted the flag. For example, since high school and until recently, I was a frequent gamer. Every day, for almost the entire day, I would play games, mostly online multiplayer first-person shooters. And I got good, very good. In fact I was awarded National Colours for it (not sure what they’re referred to in the rest of the world, but essentially the same thing awarded to national athletes and sportsman of great achievement). After stopping porn it hit me like a tonne of bricks; I was using a swiss army knife of things to avoid, quite frankly, living life.
The appeal behind porn doesn’t need explaining, and I got hooked, plain and simple. Nothing is better than forgetting all your problems and indulging in a little 5-on-1 with your favourite pornstar. This often took up entire days and nights, and yeah, to the extent that I have a small bruised/dark section on the tip of my penis. Just thought you should know.
I think this needs more exposure as an addiction alongside smoking, as a socially acceptable, but dangerous drug. It hides behind the veil of harmless entertainment, but as an insider I can tell you it can get ugly. I know those of you who game regularly will argue otherwise, and I did too, but there’s something going on here.
Look at what it is you are essentially doing: purchasing, at a relatively low cost, a unique life experience. Something that you can’t relive with the same accuracy in the real world, and certainly not with the same level of safety, reproducibility, control, containment, cost and speed. And as games become more and more visually realistic (believable), the bigger the problem is going to get. People are getting seriously hooked on this stuff, I don’t need to throw a stone very far to find news reports of gamers dying because they ignore their real-world needs.
People are dropping real-world experiences in favour of virtual ones that they can replay as many times as they want, in the safety of their living room, and underwear, and under a pile of fast food. It is not realistic for someone to go from racing around Laguna Seca in a car 300-times over their paygrade, to a full-scale war in the East (in which you are, essentially, invinsible and deadly), to being a God in charge of villages and creatures, to being the unfortunate discoverer and continuously-armed saviour of an underwater city of drug addicts, all within the same day. Why live their life if such experiences are a few hundred bucks away, and with such little effort?
Bolted onto this is online gaming, in which gamers can now directly compare themselves against strangers. I’m not here to blow my own horn, but as someone who routinely came out on top of the scoreboard let me tell you something, it becomes a need. These games reduce competition and achievement to repeatable 15-minute segments in which you either come out on top, or come up with excuses as to why you lost, all revolving around reasons beyond your control. You can win, again and again and again, in very quick succession, and that burst of, I dunno, pride and glory is what hooks you. Instead of going out into the world and climbing to the top of the corporate ladder (or forming your own corporate ladder!), or becoming a top sportsman, or building something with your bare hands, or, I dunno, becoming noteable in some way, you choose to come out at the top of a non-tangible competition between virtual representations of people, and happily so. It is the worst kind of delusion, my brain was running parallel to the real world.
I think this will surface as another addiction soon enough. I collect music, TV series and movies, at a faster rate than I can enjoy them. Currently my music collection sits at over 3276 hours, or rather, almost 4 and a half months of continuous play, without repeats. Of this monstrosity, I’ve painfully ring-fenced and enjoy only 143 hours, 4%.
I think movies/TV series are similiar to games in that you are now witnessing extraordinary events, instead of being apart of them (albeit virtually). I think this hijacks the brain in the same way. And as for music, it’s been discovered that the ‘high’ (goose pimples) felt during that section of your favourite song is similiar to the chemical release of taking drugs.
Constantly spending time on a discussion board (or forum) is no good. It’s easy to tell someone they’re an absolute wanker if they’re hundreds of miles away from you. Hell, it’s easy to tell someone anything when they aren’t in front of you. People say Facebook is convenient, I say it’s damaging. Anonymity and distance were not awarded to people before the invention of phones and computers, they actually had to talk to people, with their mouths. Imagine that shit. Speaking, making a sound. The more time I spent online, the quieter I got. I wasn’t asserting myself as much in conversation, not even in terms of volume. Human beings need close contact, or their emotional capacity suffers.
Time wasting in general
Things like opening and closing 2 or 3 websites, repeatedly, within seconds of each other, mostly Facebook, forums and blogs. Browsing the web. Reading up on posts of other peoples projects, achievements, how-to’s, whatever. Checking e-mails constantly. Playing music and going through my collection, only to stop soon after because I don’t enjoy this song, or this song, or this song. Downloading updates I don’t need. Watching downloads in progress. Messing around with spreadsheets and mathematical equations. The list goes on. My day, and I swear I’m going to log one some time, is just full of rudimentary, repetitive, boring things. I will fill my day with this fluff, and I often did when I dropped all these habits for 2-3 months. It’s all the things I was doing instead of the things I should’ve been doing.
The point of all these things is this; I avoid the problems, concerns and people in my life, by filling it with one of these and many other mundane things. Porn is what brought me to this discovery, and now I need to fix it.
The root problem is continuous life postponement and conflict avoidance, of which porn and many of these other things are the symptom. It’s easier to slip into your bedroom and waste a day doing nothing than it is to put your name out there and take some risks. Deep down inside I’m sure I just want to be that kid with no worries, and porn has kept me at that mental age by locking me inside, shackled to my computer.
I commit to myself to break free and become the man I want to be. If I fall back into my porn addiction, it’s because I allowed myself to, not because someone took my hands and made me do it, rendering me helpless. It’s all me. I need to take control of my actions and my habits, and act responsibly, as no one did this to me except for myself, and while help from others is beneficial, it is not a necessity. If I can not depend on myself to defend myself, I am at the mercy of the opinions of others, and will fail. I got myself into this mess, I can get myself out.