There is some really interesting information at fightthenewdrug.org that likens the viewing of pornography to drug use and its addictive repercussions. Porn is similar to many drugs in the stimulative effect of releasing neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine that bring pleasure to the body and form “reward pathways.” This can lead to not only addiction, but the brain’s desensitization toward the natural flow of these pleasure-stimulating neurotransmitters in everyday experiences: feeling the wind on your face, kissing your spouse, the thrill of sports, etc. Basically, overexposure to sexual content dulls your experience of the rest of the world (in the neurologically formative teenage years, this effect can be especially potent, solidifying patterns of behavior that reinforce pleasure).
I typically try to keep my distance from unnecessary extremes, but I have been pondering the way other activities might affect our ability to enjoy our life experiences fully. Watching movies, for example, can be a sort of action porn, and social media can provide us with a sort of relationship porn; both giving us hyper-real images and expressions of life, whether gunfights between giant alien robots or filtered images of sunlight pouring in from behind a lot of attractive people wearing trendy clothes pretending to laugh so they look like they’re having such amazing fun doing whatever normal thing everyone else does (I may have some feelings attached to this).
Life is meant to be enjoyed for what it is, and too often, we live consumed in the mental fantasy world of images and video. There might be great value in cutting back on our consumption of social media, movies, video games, pornography, and maybe sports on television (how does physical activity become something that encourages us to sit on our asses to watch while we eat cheese puffs and buffalo wings?). Like Tyler says in Fight Club, “After you’ve been to fight club, watching football on television is watching pornography when you could be having great sex.”
This is a mostly irrelevant picture of me drinking tea or something.
So here’s some ideas…
Stop watching porn and think about what you really want from sex in your life and the way you want your brain to function. Do the research too; I encourage that.
Limit your consumption of social media so you can live your own life and enjoy your own experiences. Not everything has to have an Instagram post to catalog it. Practice enjoying simple moments for what they are to you and the people you share them with. You’ll honestly probably have better things to share then.
Think about the effect that movies have on you and your perception of life, be they hyper-idealized romances or hyper-real giant robot battles with giant aliens (or whatever it is that giant robots are fighting these days).
Like one of my professors used to say, and probably still says, “Garbage in, garbage out,” (though out of context); we have to pay attention to the things we put in our bodies and minds if we want to be healthy and live in a fully operational and enjoyable way. We also need to stop gorging ourselves with so much imagery and information and make room for some much-needed rest in our bodies, minds, and souls.
So like they said in the 90s… Keep it real y’all.