Cover photo by Daniel Apodaca. 3 minute read.

A magazine article caught our attention the other day, “Digital Fix: new research indicates that for a growing number of people, digital usage is increasingly obsessive, compulsive—and sometimes—even addictive.” [1]

The article showcases author and scholar Adam Alter’s research, focused on the characteristics and consequences of our digital lives. The internet, it turns out, might just be the ultimate gateway drug—it’s an incredibly potent vehicle for addiction. It’s all very enlightening and extremely telling of digital pornography consumption. Read on for some fascinating parallels:

Digital addiction is what the tech industry wants from their consumers: it’s designed, it’s calculated; it’s intentional.

Internet-based addiction is a well-known, well-understood equation with clear, distinct variables, and content producers (app designers, game designers, social media gurus etc.) embed pretty much everything online with addiction triggers. It’s a successful, lucrative, dirty, schemey marketing tactic, and if you are plugged in (who isn’t?), YOU are the target audience. Exploiting addiction is the goal—but why? Because addicted consumers are the best, most generous customers (insert dollar-sign eyes here). [2][3][5][6]

A technological advancement from traditional media (like network television, magazines, etc.) to contemporary media (like Instagram, Netflix, etc.) was eliminating stopping cues: streaming, scrolling, and surfing are perpetual by design.

In his TED talk exploring “why our screens make us unhappy,” Alter explains stopping cues like this:

“…one of the reasons we spend so much time on these apps that make us unhappy is because they rob us of stopping cues. Stopping cues were everywhere in the twentieth century—they were baked into everything we did. A stopping cue to basically a signal that it’s time to move on, to do something new, to do something different…think about newspapers: eventually, you get to the end, you fold the newspaper…you put it aside… But the way we consume media today is such that there are no stopping cues…everything is bottomless.” [4]

Related: How Our Tech-Fueled World Makes It Too Easy To Get Obsessed With Porn

Basically, the ending point, the final round, final episode, final photo, is exclusively dictated by the consumer. And *surprise,* we’re not great at deciding when enough is enough. On average, we’re spending three to four hours a day interacting online. [2] The only other activity we’re as dedicated to, as a species, is sleeping.

Digital behavioral addiction is harder to escape due to a hyperactive, techno-driven culture.

Digital addicts are inescapably surrounded by devices, triggers, and other digital addicts. Our addictions have shaped our culture, and our culture endorses our addictions. Talk about a vicious cycle.

Content designers/producers are (most often) not users.

So, Steve Jobs (former CEO and co-founder of Apple,) totally limited how much technology his children used at home. Responding to an assumption that his kids must love the iPad he admitted, they had never used it. [4][7] The phenomenon here is that he’s not alone. It turns out the trend among tech giants is a lack of personal involvement in their own product, exactly because of their addicting qualities. [2][3][4][7]

Related: True Story: A Hacker Secretly Streamed My Phone Camera To A Porn Site

The takeaway? Add potentially addictive porn to an already addictive device, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Porn is just another enterprise of the tech industry, and a product of calculated addiction.

What do we do now?

But the good news is, we can utilize those same technologies used to condition us to check email, click through ads, and obsessively check for Instagram “likes” and comments to actively fight for love and shine a spotlight on the real harms of porn and its addictive potential. The same smartphone that might be part of a struggle with digital obsession/porn can also be a weapon for education and awareness.

That’s where Fight the New Drug comes in. We’re guessing you might be reading this on a phone, right? Over 75% of visitors to our website get here through mobile devices, and our website is designed to make it easy to get the information needed to understand how pornography affects the brain, the mind, and the world. And, sidenote, our Fighter App is the perfect way to continually shed light on the harms of porn, a topic that many people shy away from.

Obviously, technology isn’t going anywhere. But together, we can expose the reality of the industry for what it is, and make a positive change. You with us?

What YOU Can Do

Recognizing how our digitally-connected world enables porn to be delivered makes it easier to understand how to fight back. SHARE this post to spread the word and fight for love.

Citations

[1] Kennedy, L. P., & Farrell, P. A. (2017, October). Digital Fix. Web MD, 32.
[2] L2inc (Producer). (2016, November 22). NYU Professor Adam Alter: How to Make an Experience Addictive[Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6pcoiUPR_g
[3] Alter, A. (2017). Irresistible: The rise of addictive technology and the business of keeping us hooked. Penguin.
[4] TED (Producer). (2017, April). Why our screens make us less happy[Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/adam_alter_why_our_screens_make_us_less_happy
[5] Cook, G. (2017, March 07). Warning: Your New Digital World Is Highly Addictive. Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/warning-your-new-digital-world-is-highly-addictive/
[6] Reid, S. (2017). 5 Questions for Adam Alter. American Psychological Association,48(7), 31. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/monitor/2017/07-08/conversation-alter.aspx
[7] Bilton, N. (2014, September 10). Steve Jobs Was a Low-Tech Parent. New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/11/fashion/steve-jobs-apple-was-a-low-tech-parent.html

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