As I tossed a Frisbee with my buddy Roger this summer, we had conversations about a variety of different topics. Roger had just returned from an internship in California. Before that, he was backpacking all over Southeast Asia. I don’t know exactly how the conversation began, but I told him that something had changed and sex wasn’t the same anymore. I wasn’t enjoying it the way I had in the past. Roger told me he gave up pornography a while back and encouraged me to do the same. I gave the idea some thought and figured I should give it a try. Something wasn’t right, and I hoped this could be the solution.
I was intrigued, so I decided to do some research and find out if there were any studies being conducted on pornography; specifically, what are the effects of long-term porn use on the human body? I came across an interesting TED talk by Phillip Zimbardo titled, “The Demise of Guys.” This was filmed back in February 2011, and has over a million views to date. Zimbardo had such a positive response that he eventually turned his study into a book.
According to Zimbardo, the use of Internet porn and excessive video gaming are both arousal addictions. Zimbardo suggests, on average, men watch 50 porn clips a week. More specifically, he explains that men are out of touch when it comes to romantic relationships. This is exactly how I felt, out of touch.
After recognizing my problem and listening to Zimbardo, I wanted to learn more. I found another TED talk, a follow-up to Zimbardo’s: “The Great Porn Experiment,” by Gary Wilson. In Wilson’s 16-minute talk, he explains an interesting phenomenon called the Coolidge Effect, which, among other things, suggests that we must not forget that our ancestors began as hunter-gatherers. For instance, when men see an attractive female, dopamine surges in our brains. This is our body’s natural reproductive instinct. While online, men have the opportunity to click through thousands of different females, which triggers these surges over and over. Gary says that over time, our brains end up leaving Delta-Fosb (binge mechanic) in our reward circuit that creates cravings, and makes us want to binge.
Wilson argues that heavy users become “associated with this porn harem, some of the behaviors linked with this are being alone, multiple tabs, fast forwarding, constant novelty.” Real sex is the complete opposite: there’s courtship, touching, pheromones, an emotional connection, and real interaction with a person.
Everything that I was finding was making it much easier to give up porn. First and foremost, two long-term effects of porn consumption are erectile dysfunction and a loss of sexual performance. Nothing terrifies me as much as the thought of losing the ability to have sex–so that’s all I needed to hear. Today, it has been almost three months without Internet porn; thus, I ask the men of Wittenberg to try it. It dramatically changed my life, and I feel better overall. Take 20 minutes out of your day to check out these videos and hopefully it will help you, too.