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What You Want, Whenever You Want It: How Porn Fuels an Instant-Gratification Mindset

By June 15, 2018 No Comments

In the world of online shopping and at-our-fingertips social media, the idea of waiting for something has become somewhat old-fashioned. Need some new shoes? Just click! Need plans for the night? Just text your friends and it’ll be taken care of!

The ability to get the things you want quickly and easily isn’t necessarily bad, but it is influencing how people consume and understand porn, and how porn in turn influences the real world in a pretty large-scale and negative way.

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“The world of porn,” writes Andrew Brown for The Guardian, “is one where every desire can be (instantly) gratified… Nothing and no one matters more than what the customer wants. This predictably leads to horrible damage to those who produce porn, and to the people who are their product.”

Desire Isn’t Everything

We’re all human, and we’re all subject to certain unique desires, even if we don’t (and shouldn’t) act on all of them, all the time. The problem with porn is that it allows people to get instant gratification for desires that might otherwise be ignored or recognized as problematic or hurtful, and that can lesson carry over into other parts of life as well—that’s the pornification of reality. There aren’t “no’s” in porn, while there are a lot of “no’s” in real life.

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In reality, it’s “the belief that all desire can and should be gratified,” as Brown puts it, that’s really unhealthy.

So let’s consider porn for a minute from that perspective: porn can ultimately be the gateway to this mentality of needing everything to be gratified all the time, even if it’s something like, say, an abuse fantasy or something else harmful. And yes, millions of people are buying into the all-gratification, all-the-time thinking. After all, porn is an enormous global industry that is instantly accessible to anybody with a smartphone and internet access, so it’s not surprising that the instant, momentary gratification porn provides might open some doors that would be better off staying shut.

What Instant Gratification Really Looks Like

Let’s get some specific examples. We’ve already seen porn-fueled changes in society around the world, whether it’s Japan’s sexless millennials, the rise of virtual girlfriends, the increase in black market sales for real rape tapes, or the sex dolls that provide instant gratification without the need for connection.

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This desire for instant gratification no matter the cost, and no matter the hurtfulness of the reinforced behavior, hurts more than just the consumer, too. It’s an inherently selfish way to live, and when we view other people as sex objects or as means to an end, it leads both to a lack of respect for others and contributes to problems like sexual exploitation, sex trafficking, and sexual violence.

Real Life Is Better

It’s important to ask ourselves if this is the sort of world we want to live in. Do we want to live in a society where every desire can be gratified instantly, but in which it’s hard to say what true connection is and what’s just the appearance of connection? Do we want to live in a society where people don’t have the self-control to deny their desires because they know they’re harmful to themselves and others?

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As Brown puts it, “porn-ish fantasy offers a satisfaction which cannot be enjoyed in real life, and for which, therefore, real life cannot entirely substitute.” We don’t want to live in a world where real life is something we’re always trying to escape from. We want a world in which real life, even with its problems and difficulties, is way more real and rewarding than any fake version, even when it doesn’t offer instant gratification.

Why This Matters

Let’s face it, real love isn’t easy and there isn’t that instant gratification, but it’s worth all the hard work. Healthy relationships are important, and porn diminishes their value by tricking consumers into thinking that instant satisfaction is better than the hard work that goes into real connections.

When we connect with real people in real ways, we can largely avoid the “horrible damage” that Brown recognizes as being a part of porn that affects producers, performers, and consumers alike. Building real relationships with real people in the real world, with all its real difficulties and challenges, is way more worthwhile, and in the long run it’ll make each of us, and the world itself, a whole lot happier.

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