What I Learned from Giving Up Porn for a Month | VICE | United States

I'd been watching porn on a very regular basis, clicking on RedTube or YouPorn or Tube8 most nights before going to sleep, or sometimes during the day if I was bored and felt like giving my wrist a bit of a workout. With that in mind, I assumed it would be hard to just cut myself off cold turkey, but for the first few days it was actually surprisingly easy. The closest thing I can equate it to is quitting smoking; not lighting up becomes a point of honor, a personal challenge, a battle you need to win in order to continue thinking of yourself as a decent human being.

This feeling—for the first couple of days, at least—was more pleasurable than the craving I'd decided to forego. I masturbated as I'd always done, and the novelty of using my mind again was exciting. I fantasized about ex-girlfriends and lovers and the things I'd always wanted to do but had been too shy to suggest. None of this was completely new, of course, but I'd never done it in such a systematic way. Now, every time I wanted to jerk off, I had to create a video of my own: concentrate, add details, flesh it out, give it a chronological order.

This is what we'd expect to see if viewing porn is not an addiction. In the event of addiction, immediate withdrawal of the stimulus produces a transient, inevitably unpleasant, withdrawal syndrome that yields eventually -- a few days with cannabis, a few weeks with alcohol, a few months with Xanax, a few years with heroin -- to an over-all improvement as the brain is no longer being tormented by -- wait for it -- a disease. That is, withdrawal, as a phenomenon, is basically always worse in early stages. This is true for alcohol, cigarettes, methamphetamine, alprazolam, you name it.

It is not true here. The first few days produce no syndrome, then eventually he gets cravings. Where by "cravings" I mean "regret", which is what you expect to see when you just stop doing something fun for no reason. I like playing Super Smash Brothers. If, tomorrow, I gave up Super Smash Brothers for no reason other than to prove how awesome I was to a bunch of people who read my overrated VICE column, I'm guessing that after a few weeks I'd start to feel like an idiot, because that's a dumb thing to do.

That's not to say that learning to masturbate without porn isn't a useful skill or a task worth pursuing. It also doesn't detract from his experience that, apparently, it feels better to masturbate without looking at porn (I think so too...). It's just not a religious goal, and it is not the same as withdrawal from an addictive substance; stop trying to hijack people's legitimate struggles to explain your minor inconveniences.

The question is "what does the author want to be true?". In this case, giving up porn forced him to realize he'd become sexually lazy. He only wants that to be porn's fault.

/r/Foodforthought Thread Link - vice.com