Porn Addiction During the Pandemic: Meet the Newest Problem… OnlyFans

I never like to share the names of pornographic websites when I’m educating about pornography addiction. It’s because I know that active porn addicts are a piece of the audience and I don’t want to introduce them to anything that could make their situation worse. It’s only when something is so ingrained in society, like PornHub.com or Penthouse magazine, that I’m comfortable sharing details because I know I’m not turning them on to something they didn’t already know was there.

In the last three or four months, both in live presentations prior to COVID-19 and on podcasts, I have been vaguely referring to the porn site OnlyFans.com, but based on news stories that hit over the weekend about the site and the fallout of one woman posting material on it, it’s probably time to educate the world at large. If you want to read that story, check out: https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/otilliasteadman/mechanic-fired-onlyfans-account-indiana

In its simplest terms, OnlyFans is a website that is not all that different than someone’s personal page on Facebook or Twitter. You can post notes, photos, videos and even livestream video. The difference is for someone to access your OnlyFans page, they have to pay a monthly subscription and it’s generally understood that the material you’ll be posting is pornography. The company can get around claiming it’s a porn site because it’s never explicitly stated, but then again, the Q-Tips package says nothing about cleaning your ears and we know where 99% of those cotton swabs go.

The explosion of OnlyFans came at the worst possible time…when millions of young adults were forced out of their jobs in service industries like restaurants or bars, or were laid off/furloughed from their jobs because, by virtue of age and experience, they were lowest on the totem pole.

I’ve already written about cam sites that have been trying to recruit new models, both male and female, to respond to the spike in popularity of online porn because of the quarantine most of the world is under. Idle hands, devil’s playthings – you know the drill. The OnlyFans business structure is different than these other, more blatant adult sites because a “model” never has to go live one-on-one or group chat with anybody. They can easily rationalize to themselves that they are not a sex worker or cam site model. I’m sure more than one person out there posted photos and/or videos taken by their partner never intended for public consumption, but who found themselves with money-making content on their phones.

This reminds me of about 20 years ago when I got into a conversation with one of the strippers hired for a friend’s bachelor party. She also worked as a middle school teacher’s aide several towns over. She explained that in her mind, being a stripper for bachelor parties gave her far more control and was far safer than if she danced in a strip club. She was able to keep a very part-time schedule, security was always with her, she picked who she wanted to work with, could always stop things and didn’t worry about her identity being found as much as if she worked in a traditional strip club.

I still believe that she simply found a way to rationalize her behavior, like I assume most OnlyFans models are rationalizing theirs. Sure, you’re not a traditional porn model and have more control over your content, but you’re still selling your body and I’ve read far too many articles or seen TV stories of women who regret doing porn after the fact, either immediately or years later. I mean really, how many of us who remember those late-night Girls Gone Wild commercials of the late 90s and early 2000s on every cable station think the girls in those commercials – may of whom probably have 15-year-old sons now – aren’t regretting their decision?

 

I first learned about OnlyFans a little more than a year ago when this New York Times story was brought to my attention: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/09/style/onlyfans-porn-stars.html

Ironically, despite being a recovering porn addict, I probably know far more about the online pornography industry now than I ever did in my addiction. If I’m going to keep up with what’s happening and make my presentations, interviews, etc., timely, I’ve got to know what the just-recently-no-longer-kids are doing. Thankfully, it’s been more than six years since I was active in my addiction, but I don’t find it difficult to stay away from the content I’m referencing. I liken it to Sam Malone owning a bar despite being a recovering alcoholic on Cheers.

Most porn fads die as quickly as they arrive or never catch on. For instance, virtual reality porn has been promised going back nearly 30 years now and it’s still not a household thing. I doubt it ever will be and until something gains legs, I don’t pay too much attention, but I’ll tell you, I haven’t seen anything grow this fast since Snapchat.

In March, the P2P video website Periscope, which is owned by Twitter, seemed to drop all of its streaming moderation rules as the pandemic hit. If you’re unfamiliar with Periscope, it’s much like Facebook live or even YouTube live. Somebody in location X is broadcasting and all you need to do is click the mouse to see what’s going down. Most of the time its somebody talking sports or doing a makeup tutorial. Periscope, which has been around for at least five years, has always been generally strong monitoring its streams for nudity and adult material.

(The conspiracy theorist in me would point out that the only social media site OnlyFans encourages people to connect to is Twitter, which again, owns Periscope. You can connect the dots.)

When that moderation seemingly disappeared from Periscope in early March, the site became more like a modern-day casting session for Caligula. People got freaky in a hurry and the amount of streamers opening OnlyFans sites and advertising them was astounding. I don’t know what caused Periscope to start monitoring its streams again, but after a few weeks, it went back to its more conservative streaming rules.

The girls and guys who were dancing around naked just put skimpy swimsuits or underwear on and are still pushing their OnlyFans sites through Periscope. OnlyFans subscription promotion is also happening on the other streaming services and a simple search for “OnlyFans” on Twitter or Instagram is popping hundreds of thousands of returns. Every day, they’re joined by more young adults who don’t mind dressing sexy to tease publicly, and if the person watching is willing to spend $9.99 a month or more, they’ll show more in a controlled private environment.

Of course, that environment only stays private as long as one of the subscribers does not make copies and distribute it for free out on the Internet. At that point, you’re no longer charging a small pool of people to see you acting out sexually. You’re letting exponentially more see it for free, in perpetuity. A PornHub.com search for the phrase “OnlyFans” results in nearly 5,000 results.

While there are stories of some models making thousands of dollars per month, I’ve yet to read this kind of anecdote from anybody who has joined recently, though. Like all economics, it’s a matter of supply and demand. It’s the early arrivers and those who already had a name in the porn world who seem to make the money. Aside from a couple of horny ex-customers, who is specifically going to drop $10 to see former small-town waiter X or waitress Y take a shower when they are just one of tens of thousands of out-of-work people who have turned to OnlyFans.

Is putting pornography of yourself out into the world worth it for $5,000 per month? $500? $50? One of the great quotes of the Buzzfeed piece I linked above is from a former porn star who says that you have to go into it knowing that everyone from your family to your best friends to your worst enemies will end up learning you did porn sooner or later.

What price is that really worth? I’m betting it’s not equal to the regret many will eventually feel.

18 thoughts on “Porn Addiction During the Pandemic: Meet the Newest Problem… OnlyFans

    1. Throughout all of my addiction and recovery, I have always said if you’re paying for porn on the Internet, you’re doing it wrong. I guess if you specifically want to see that Home Depot employee you’ve had your eyes on and you discover his or her page, it’s the only way you’re going to get to see it, but if you’re paying money to see people you know naked, there are probably a few other issues that need to be explored.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Sadly I’m one of the people that has paid for OnlyFans. I’ve lost a lot of money tipping the models, too. They direct message you exclusive content which I purchase without even thinking about it. It’s a compulsive issue and I have started to have suicidal thoughts because of it. It really does feel like I’m slave to sites like OnlyFans.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi, Robin. I would never actually do it, but it’s scary that I’m having such thoughts in the first place. I’m not getting any medical help, but my family are very supportive and I have places online to go to if I need to open up.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ok, yeah, I understand you 🙂. Indeed it is scary just to have the thoughts about it. I’ve also had many many thoughts like that over a long period of time, not in the last 6 months though, as my situation has been more stable.

        It sounds like you are doing great things to help yourself. And having a supportive family makes all the difference, so I’m really glad to hear that!

        Turning those feelings into creative output can be so good, too

        Liked by 1 person

      3. If you’re feeling suicidal, get to your emergency room ASAP. If you’re feeling depressed over your porn use, I get it. I’ve been there. If you need someone to talk to, drop me an email. It’s on the contact page.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. What young folks who participate in porn fail to comprehend is that what they do online stays online. The “cloud” is forever. Like you said, 20 years from now their provocative antics may end up on their offspring’s (or worse, their bosses) laptop screen.

    Liked by 2 people

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