? Industrial Music for Industrial People | Main | Star-Spangled ?

May 10, 2006

The Deleterious Effects of "Internet" Pornography Upon the Moral and Psychic Development of Young Men (Young Women Being Above Such Things): A Personal View

Much of the Drake's alchohol and edamame had been consumed in the course of discussing a new business venture with a Toronto blogger of note* when the subject of pornography and the "internet" was raised. To whit; is the combination of a bewildering variety of pornographic imagery and ready internet access a problematical combination for young men?

Too right it is! Or such was our consensus. The problem is not porn per se but its all too ready availability. Those of us of a certain age may vividly remember the illicit thrill of securing a dog-eared copy of some dodgy magazine. This was perhaps all the more thrilling when we were too young to properly appreciate the point of said publications. We felt a profound sense of accomplishment both in having secured proof of our resourcefulness and in demonstrating our independence in a minor act of rebellion.

A rudimentary skill at Google searches hardly compares to the contraband networks of the (fairly recent) past. By contrast, seekers after internet porn are spoiled for choice. Where is the challenge? It is now far too easy to find porn. This ease of access presents problems cognate with questions raised by ontogeny and phylogeny. As our nervous systems evolved in the context of foraging societies in what is now the east African plain so too do our individual nervous systems develop in one of the diverse social and technological contexts of today. Practice makes perfect. Lacking the context to hone our hunting skills it is small surprise if they should lapse; even fail. An "Eden of pornography" where any old smut is found ready-to-hand on a low-hanging branch may sound idyllic. But it is an elastic waistband for the soul.

Compare, if you will, the world of the furtive Google searcher with that of his Paleolithic ancestor. For the latter, pornography meant a hardscrabble clamber into an ill-lit cave of the Ardèche for some quick "hunting magic". For the former, (at most) remembering to clear the history cache. It could be that an ability to leave no tracks on the web presents sufficient parallel with our hunting past to enable healthy neurological development. Time will tell. This is a psychological experiment on a grand scale with no way to predict its outcome and little recognition it is even underway.

Which brings me to YouTube and an emergent problem. It is one which would already be non-sensical to the young. There was a time when a trip to Toronto (or whatever your local metropolis) meant a rare opportunity to forage for all the alternate media much whispered about but never seen. Stores like Suspect and Pages had small-market, cult press music, art and politics publications and a handful of record stores on Queen West provided a life-line to mythic London.** Now a link to an interview with Genesis P-Orridge leads me to a live performance of "Discipline" by Throbbing Gristle, Coil's "The Lost Rivers of London" and a Clock DVA video for a tune called "Resistance" I had never heard of let alone heard before. One is spoiled for choice.

I am, of course, delighted to be able to see these things. A world where this material is available is measurably better than a world where it is lost. Perhaps especially so for people who by choice or happenstance have no access to the specialty stores a metropolitan market may support. Yes, mass literacy and the printing press are better than a handful of recovered manuscripts under lock and key. Yet something of the treasure hunt and pilgrimage functions of this lack may be lost to us. Consequences, consequences.

*Who shall remain nameless for reasons that should be obvious.
**People still stop me on the street when I wear the treasured, threadbare Skinny Puppy shirt I bought on Granville in Vancouver twenty years ago.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at May 10, 2006 09:17 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry: