As an anti-porn, pro-love organization, we talk a lot about how the porn industry has changed post-internet. Here’s a brief crash course: the business went from film studios and production companies raking in profits from VHS, to the world wide web of sharing free pirated videos via tube sites. Many studios have since closed up shop, and those still standing make production deals with the same websites who have stolen their content.

That’s obviously not the end of porn. Anyone who suggests the porn industry has died is referring to the studio structure, not the demand for sexually explicit material. If you know anything about the normalization of porn in our society, the latter has done the opposite of disappear.

But it’s been a decade since the tube sites took over. And as we keep track of the trends, we’ve noticed a change in what audiences seem to want from porn. The problem is, since consumers are hard-wired for genuine relationships, they want something real porn can never provide.

Keyword Porn

Veteran porn performers who ruled during the “golden days” of the studio porn industry have said they regret the loss of storytelling in explicit films. Videos today are more about penetration and the mechanics of rough sex than anything else. It’s clear what the singular goal is, and it’s not anything romantic.

According to David Horsey from the LA Times, online porn is dehumanizing—we absolutely agree. Videos are nothing more than a rotation of bodies and orifices defined by a search term: “Asian,” “lesbian,” “teen,” “cheerleader.”

This is the dominant, driving message behind the porn today—sheer objectification, and selling people for parts.

“Women are no more than a set of orifices intended for the use and abuse of men, and men are nothing more than anonymous phalluses demanding to be serviced,” Horsey wrote.

But it doesn’t seem like this shallow yet horrifying content is going anywhere fast. As a consumer watches more and more porn, they start to develop a tolerance and seek out more explicit content, in more extreme versions. What was once exciting, now seems boring. We’ve seen how the internet feeds this problem by making more and more extreme material not only accessible but mainstream.

This hardcore, emotionless and detached version of porn still dominates the mainstream, promoted all over the front pages of tube sites. But as consumers are demanding more and more, performers and producers are coming up with new ways to offer another dimension to the porn experience.

Searching For Intimacy

Unsurprisingly, there’s a very limited sense of connection in the synthetic sex content mentioned above, and as consumers opt for fantasy over reality, they desire and demand more from their porn.

But again, our porn-obsessed society is looking for love and connection in all the wrong places.

The demand for content from webcammers is on the rise, seeing as consumers are attracted to the concept of searching out and finding a favorite performer who fits their fantasy. Out of the personal camming world, porn personalities have emerged who have essentially replaced the legacy studio porn performers.

These (predominantly) women create their own videos of themselves, but they don’t only post porn. They open up about their lives, share their likes and dislikes, and speak to the camera to create a sense of pseudo-connection with their paying viewers. Sometimes, cammers will film themselves casually going about their day, or playing video games. Consumers can even buy things on their Amazon wishlist and send them personal gifts. These women are no longer just a body in all videos, but a personality, thus adding another layer of purchased intimacy that was previously missing. Think of it like a fake long-distance girlfriend experience for the consumer on the other side of the camera. Lonely, right?

Additionally, some industry workers are trying to satisfy the new demand for connection through virtual reality. Longtime porn “legacy,” Ron Jeremy, is one performer who is branching out as a 360-degree video director. He believes it will add another dimension to the experience and allow people to feel three things: immersion, connection, and intimacy.

Technology is literally trying to replace our relationships. The problem with this idea, is that you can’t manufacture intimacy through virtual reality and YouTube-style videos, can you? They can add to what wasn’t there before, but really, it’s a produced, synthetic and purchased version of real intimacy.

As we can see, the porn industry will continue to use advances in technology to try and get closer and closer to that good feeling you have in a relationship, that feeling of connectedness. And thankfully for real love, it’s an unattainable reach for them, because you cannot simply manufacture and replace real love.

Never Enough

This is how convinced we are as a society that what we have isn’t enough: a consumer can have a great relationship with a partner, and still turn to porn for side “satisfaction” because it’s considered normal and acceptable.

“There’s a certain way of experiencing sexual arousal that is the opposite of closeness,” Dr. Gary Brooks, expert on porn addiction, says. “At best, it can be managed somewhat by some people, but most of the time it creates a barrier that poisons relationships.” Relationship experts, Doctors John and Julie Gottman explain how, “when watching pornography the user is in total control of the sexual experience, in contrast to normal sex in which people are sharing control with the partner. Thus a porn user may form the unrealistic expectation that sex will be under only one person’s control… the relationship goal of intimate connection is confounded and ultimately lost.”

Porn promises immediate satisfaction, endless excitement, and easy intimacy, but in the end, it robs a consumer of all three.

Based on what we’ve read from former consumers, it’s so much easier to seek out an online fantasy where there’s no fear of rejection or running out of things to say—they’re safe from disappointment and pain. But in that, they’re cutting themselves off from experiencing life at its fullest. And let’s be real—a kind, respectful, loving relationship with a committed partner in real life will always be worth more than any internet connection.

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Synthetic sex is easier than putting in the time and effort for real relationships, but it’s never worth it. SHARE this article and change the conversation about what porn is selling consumers.

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