I feel creepy typing this. Dirty almost. But, as if in the confessional booth, I feel that I must talk openly about what has been a constant part of my life, since I was aged fourteen – Masturbating over Internet Pornography. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not like Michael Fassbender’s character in the film ‘Shame’, and even in my horny teens I would never empty my sock draw, so to speak. But, looking back I would say that on average I have deposited my seed habitually on a weekly basis.
Thinking fondly of the classic Seinfeld episode ‘The Contest’, I decided to challenge myself over a period of 40 days, and 40 nights (perhaps inspired by that Josh Hartnett movie) to go without. I wanted to see how this might affect me, on a physical and an emotional level. This almost sounds like the beginning of a Guardian-style lifestyle article that will open me up to all kinds of ridicule. The results, and the journey I’ve been on, if you can call it a journey, have been interesting to say the least.
I suppose this, likely many of my bright ideas stemmed from boredom as opposed to frustration. Quite simply I’ve become bored with the routine. Whatever satisfaction I gained after knocking one out, it has all been essentially no more beneficial to me than the fleeting euphoric feeling I might get after finishing a 5k run, or the simple sense of pleasure felt in the pit of my stomach after eating a tub of Ben and Jerry’s Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream.
There were some questions that I realised I’d not be able to answer during this period of abstinence. I pondered how watching pornography has influenced my mood when interacting, both sexually and non-sexually with females I found attractive. Was I unconsciously salacious, and disrespectful? Did it affect my confidence; more so, when I was already in a rut or a dry spell? Did turning to pornography after the breakdown of a relationship, affect the next future relationship?
Then again, this is a story that might bore you, because it, like the cluster of sodden tissues that have gotten flushed away over the years, is really nothing significant. Forty days went by quickly; the first few days may have been difficult, I can’t recall if they were, because they soon disappeared, and this turned into a question of will power.
During the first fortnight I discovered a vibrant ‘No Fap’ subculture (http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/no-fap-monthsno-fap-september and http://www.reddit.com/r/NoFap ) which was quite a humorous find, and oddly somewhat reassuring. Where men (and indeed some women) who had grown up with the internet during their adolescence have been attempting to cut down on their consumption of pornographic material. It appeared that a number of people had felt the need to put the brakes on bashing the bishop. Could a whole generation have lost touch with the realities of rough and tumble, the unique sights, sticky ickyness and pungent smells; all foregone in favour of a few dabs of moisturiser and rhythmic repetitive hand movements?
When attempting to look back at my pornographic viewing history I find a hazy mist has suddenly descended upon where it all began. Like many young men my first sight of the naked female form came from viewing grainy films from VHS tapes that were passed between friends; these amateurishly produced videos which usually featured a lot of unkempt body hair were mostly recorded over an omnibus edition of Brookside past the midnight hour. I think I could probably trace back further as to why I tend to favour watching videos of big breasted pornstars, this likely developed through staring at Page 3 of The Sun Newspaper each morning throughout the week over a bowl of Coco Pops, and my penchant for Asian chicks likely stemmed from playing Street Fighter 2 obsessively and worshipping Chun Li and her powerful thighs. When dial-up internet came along in my household I wasn’t quick on the uptake that the web would lead me to a world of easily accessible pornographic material. In fact, I can only assume that my regular use began somewhere around my time at University, when various ‘tube’ sites began cropping up.
It was quite easy back then to whittle away an hour as opposed to writing up an essay on the Age of Enlightenment. When I look back, and attempt to tally up those lost hours, it amounts to a considerable waste of time, once a week for fourteen years amounts to seven hundred and twenty odd hours; that works out to what, by my poor calculation about thirty days. I recently re-watched Randy Pausch’s lecture on ‘Time Management’ and it dawned on me that this was time I’d never get back.
So, what happened over the last forty days? Well for one thing, I successfully managed to complete the challenge. I was the ‘Master of my Domain’ Though it is important to note that one morning, on the twenty sixth day to be exact, I woke up with a sticky wet patch on my boxers, evidence of a wet dream. Cripes, I hadn’t experienced one of those nocturnal emissions for yonks. This didn’t contravene the rules of the challenge, because it was a natural occurrence.
There was the odd occasion when I felt tempted. After a hard day at work, tension needed to be released. Fidgeting online, opening a new browser tab, I did think about masturbating, but for some reason I was able to show restraint. Distracting myself has never been a problem. I simply did other things. Kept busy.
Physically during the forty days I’ve felt great, virile, more energetic, more in tune spiritually, less downbeat. I also noticed that I felt more at ease with members of the opposite sex. I’d start conversations regularly with women who before I’d hardly ever talk to; I made better eye contact, noticed receptive body language, didn’t think too much, felt more in the moment. Was this because I was no longer masturbating? Possibly.
Most importantly I discovered that perhaps this whole thing was not an issue of some deeply repressed social problem that I might have, as I first feared. No, this was about saving time, of being more productive. The reason why I had felt better was because I had created a small window of time in my busy schedule to actually be productive, the benefits of this, gave me some deal of confidence, and this confidence was projected in how I interacted with others, not just with the opposite sex, but everybody.
Then I sat down one evening and wrote these thousand odd words about something that turned out to be rather insignificant.