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How Pornography Affects Individuals, Relationships, and Society (FTND)

Fight The New Drug logo puts out vide on pornography
How many broken individuals, relationships, and families will it take before society wises up to the detriments of pornography?

Today, I want to share three short educational clips that Fight The New Drug (FTND) recently put out on the topic of pornography. The first covers the detrimental effect of pornography on individuals; the second on relationships; and the third on society. The clips are all shorter than 3 minutes, and so I encourage you to check them out. They are graphically illustrated, as well, and easy to follow along with.

I have transcribed the clips for those of you who would rather read or otherwise are not able to access the audio.

For more, see the complete archive of articles on integrity.

Video #1: How Pornography Affects Individuals


Recently, the super computer managed to do what no computer had ever done: simulate one whole second of human brain activity. How long did it take the computer to accomplish the task? 40 minutes. That might seem like a long time, if, like most of us, one second of brain activity amounts to something like, “I want a sandwich.” But your brain transmits more messages than all the phone calls across the world, sifting through a non-stop flow of input from the eyes, ears, and other senses, even if you’re just making a sandwich.

Consider the brain. 50 billion neurons, a trillion glial cells, 4 miles of blood vessels, all dedicated to making an enjoyable life possible for you. Need food, shelter, and sleep? Your brain is designed to go after whatever it takes to survive. Your brain is also wired for companionship, with neural chemicals released in response to intimacy, even if you’re alone staring at pornographic images on a screen.

In that moment, the brain’s powerful machinery kicks into gear, bonding us in different ways to images on the screen. Studies show that over time, many can develop a compulsion to pornography, causing them to need more of it, more often, and more hardcore versions, just to feel normal, just like with mood-altering drugs. The amazing brain, in other words, can be hijacked.

Image after image, your expectations of sex, love, and relationships can evolve, with your own sexual preferences changing dramatically, as you continue to seek out more shocking content. No surprise, then, that in comparison, people and activities you used to really care about seem less interesting.

The good news is that the same processes that shape the brain in one direction, can shape it in another. Hundreds of research studies prove that brain pathways can move in healthier directions. That’s true for all of us. And there are lots of ways to help that happen. The only question that remains is “What pathways will you choose for yourself?”

So, choose reality. Choose love. You were born with a machine in your head more powerful than the world’s computer: your brain. Take care of it. It was made to take care of you.

Video #2: How Pornography Affects Relationships


In the 13th century, the Emperor Frederick II decided to conduct an experiment. He wanted to know what language children would speak on their own if no one ever taught them any. He assigned nurses to 50 babies, telling them to feed and bathe the children in absolute silence. No speaking. No eye contact. No lullabies or cuddles.

So, what language did they speak? Frederick never found out. All of them died.1

To this day, it’s well known that human beings suffer when they’re deprived of love and touch. Even when they’re taking care of in other ways, those of deprived of affection grow sickly. Their physical and mental development is stunted, and, in some cases, they even die.

Consider the heart. Consider the things we do every day for connection and for love. People run into burning buildings and dive into frigid lakes for love. They move their homes, change their names, spend their fortunes, and step in front of bullets, all in this passionate pursuit of the human heart—to love and be loved. This longing is so powerful that we will sometimes pursue any way of feeling connected, even when that involves nothing more than pornographic images on a screen. When the images end, of course, there is no one to talk with. No one to share with. And none of the give and take of being with another person.

And, despite claims that porn will make you a better lover, study after study confirms the opposite. Porn users express less love for their partners, and become more critical of appearances and less able to perform sexually.

Other studies found users more disrespectful and aggressive within intimacy, and less willing to stick around in a relationship. Bottom line? Pornography is a scientifically proven guide to being a bad lover in virtually every imaginable way. In addition to impacting who we love, and how we see them, it changes how much we’re able to actually express that love.

So think twice about giving your heart to something without a pulse. Sure, machines can meet all sorts of physical needs. A furnace can keep you warm. A respirator can keep you breathing. But no machine can ever satisfy your basic need to bond with another human being.

Choose love. Real love, which is the sweetest of all human experiences. Expect no frauds and no substitutions. The deepest needs of your own fragile heart can only be met in the fragile heart of another person.

1 NOTE TO READER: There is some scholarly doubt that Frederick II ever conducted this experiment on these terms. However, the evidence from the scientific literature on detrimental, even lethal, outcomes for babies who did not receive proper love and affection is well documented.

For example, check out this meta research analysis on “The Importance Of Human Touch” in development.

Developmental delay is often seen in children receiving inadequate or inappropriate sensory stimulation. For example, orphaned infants exposed to the bleakest of conditions in eastern European institutions exhibited impaired growth and cognitive development, as well as an elevated incidence of serious infections and attachment disorders.

Evan L Ardiel, MSc and Catharine H Rankin, PhD

Video #3: How Pornography Affects Society


On April 25, 2015, an earthquake hit Nepal. Within 54 seconds, it had leveled over half a million homes and killed nearly 10,000 people. It was devastating, but what happened next was incredible. Almost immediately, neighbors from China rushed across the border to clear rubble. Within 15 minutes, India had mobilized a full-scale relief effort, including medical supplies and rescue dogs. Before the day was over, people, money, and supplies were pouring in from 60 countries, 35 relief organizations, and countless businesses.

Consider the world. More than ever before, we’re able to help reduce human suffering anywhere, from natural disasters to a child’s medical bills. In a remarkable way, technology can focus our attention and rally us around a single worthy cause, combining millions of individual acts with kindness into a massive force for good. Or, combining millions of individual selfish acts into a massive force for harm.

If the private act of viewing porn can rewire a brain, devastate a relationship, and destroy a family, what happens when that act is multiplied by 100 million? What happens when it isn’t just you seeking ever more explicit pornographic material, but your next-door neighbor, your teacher, your doctor? What happens when it’s half your country?

Today’s rising generation is facing the issue of pornography at a level our world has never seen. In 2015, 4.3 billion hours of pornography were watched on a single website. That’s half a million years.

What are the consequences of 4 billion hours when pornography has shown to increase marital infidelity by over 300%? What are the consequences when 88% of the scenes depict aggression or violence? What are the consequences when the porn industry has now been linked to abuse on set, child exploitation, and even human trafficking?

When we discover that products are tied to abusive things, like child labor, we’re willing to change what we buy. Isn’t the time we had the same conversation about pornography’s human impact?

Somewhere, right now, actual lives are being made far worse by the million little mouse clicks around the world.

So, choose love, and humanity. Click on something else. Take a stand. And pour your time and energy into something, anything, that might just make this world a little better for all of us.

An intellectually curious millennial passionate about seeing people make healthy, informed choices about the moral direction of their lives. When I’m not reading or writing, I enjoy hiking, web-making, learning foreign languages, and watching live sports. Alumnus of Georgetown University (B.S.) and The Ohio State University (M.A.).


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