The new heroin
There’s a lot to love about the Internet. Blogs for one thing. (I can only presume anyone reading this is inclined to agree!)
But I suspect the overall impact of the Internet on the world is negative. Take a look at these statistics on online pornography, which are nothing short of horrific but all too believable:
There’s no doubting porn addiction is a huge cultural problem. The masters of satire at The Onion have painted a crude but poignant portrait: ‘Carpe Diem,’ Says Man Who Spent Previous Day Masturbating In Darkened Room (reader discretion advised).
Of course, from my point of view porn addiction is also a pastoral problem.
Addiction has a spiritual element. I advise Catholics who are addicted to pornography — or masturbation, or sex — to commit themselves to an intense plan of interior life: daily meditation and spiritual reading, and if possible daily communion and frequent confession. Apart from that, I recommend fixed Internet hours, and accountability software like X3watch.
But it’s important to note that addiction to online pornography is a neurological disease, not a moral failure. A friend of mine — a professional counsellor whom I’ve blogged about before — has written at length about the neuroscience of pornography addiction and recovery.
So spiritual remedies need to be accompanied by psychological treatment. Grace builds on nature. Porn addicts need to ‘unlearn’ neurological pathways, and rewire billions of connections. The process can be compared to getting over a failed romantic relationship. It’s not easy, but it can be done.
Lest anyone believes the only victims of porn addiction are the addicts, think again. The online porn industry depends on human trafficking.
Online pornography is every bit as destructive and evil as heroin.