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.

We All Make Mistakes. Some Are Just Bigger Than Others. I Can Relate.

You probably don’t remember what was on cable news the day before Coronavirus went around-the-clock. Same goes for 9/11, but it’s easy to understand how once the terrorist attacks took place, whatever was on CNN disappeared and was forgotten.

Arguably the biggest story in the world of justice on 9/10 was the first day of the trial for many people involved in the rigging of the McDonald’s Monopoly Millions Sweepstakes.

The what?

As it turned out, between 1989 and 2001, while McDonald’s customers were saving game pieces from the French fry boxes and drink cups hoping to match them up and win a prize, almost every major winning game piece was sold by a small group of people with access to the winning tickets. The FBI estimated that more than $24 million in prizes were diverted to this criminal conspiracy.

Then the planes hit the buildings and people largely forgot about the trial.

I don’t recall if I heard anything about this story when it was happening. In 2001, I was in my first big-deal lead editor job at a newspaper, which for a man-child of 24 with no college degree was impressive and rare. I was also living on my own, recently out of a long-term relationship, and was at a point in my life when I partied much too often, much too hard. When the owner of the company sent us home around noon on 9/11, I spent the next four days in front of the TV doing very little other than smoking weed, drinking beer, looking at porn and sleeping. There were probably harder substances or prescription pills mixed in that I just don’t remember. It’s easy to understand why I may have missed that story. I missed most of the first half of my 20s.

I first read the entire story about the McDonald’s game rigging in a magazine a few years ago. I remember it was convoluted to read because of how many people were involved, and the fact that the two guys most responsible were both named Jerry. But it was a crazy story because it was not a story of organized crime by well-connected mobsters. There may have been an element of that here or there, but it was mostly regular people in varying circumstances justifying getting themselves involved in a scam unlike any other in history.

The entire story, from its genesis to where people are today, was recently chronicled in the excellent HBO documentary series McMillions. If you have HBO, or you cable system is giving limited access to HBO during the pandemic, as many are, I urge you to watch this series. Unlike Tiger King, which was entertaining in a car-crash way, this is actually a well-told story with a beginning, middle and end. Sure, like any six-hour documentary, it drags in places, but I believe the final episode is one of the best hours of TV I’ve seen in years.

While I was convicted of a very different crime that was all of my doing, I drew many parallels to the situations of many of those who were part of the scam as depicted in McMillions, both as they were participating in and how they now look back on the ordeal years later.

There’s the single mother who always had trouble making ends meet or the LDS foster father who wanted to give his foster son a leg-up in life. There’s the crazy wife of the one guy in organized crime too scared to leave or disobey him and his oblivious flight attendant mistress who was just along for the ride. The show is rife with characters who are concurrently deeply flawed, yet sympathetic; smart and cunning, yet dim-witted and convincible.

I’ll try not to provide too many spoilers, but it’s my guess that most people watching will say that, depending on how the participant was presented in the documentary, the justice system was either too lenient or too harsh in its sentencing.

I heard a lot of that after I was sentenced, when my book came out and when I first started sharing my story on podcasts. For unintentionally, yet negligently engaging with a teenage girl in an online chatroom in 2013, encouraging her to behave sexually and taking two screen captures, I served six months in jail and three years of probation. I obviously never wanted anything like that to happen in my life, but I caused the entire thing to go down. While my mind was clouded by addiction, it’s not any excuse for my heinous behavior. I just was not of a mindset where I saw it happening to me in real time, nor one where common sense overrode my poor choices. All of these years later, I bet I still actively regret my decision a minimum of five times a day. It stays that front-of-mind, always.

There were people who openly called for decades-long sentencing for my transgressions and others who thought I shouldn’t have served a day based on my clean history, mental illness at the time and rehabilitation prior to sentencing.

What is the proper sentence for someone who convinces a teenage girl to expose herself online and takes a picture of it? There was no physical contact and I couldn’t actually make her do anything she didn’t want, right? But I was also taking advantage of a situation and manipulating it with depraved indifference against someone who was still a minor, right?

McMillions shows that even when people are doing the wrong thing, how they should be dealt with is not always a matter of black-and-white. If the “ringleader” gives a million-dollar winning game piece to his friend that will help pay for healthcare he wouldn’t otherwise receive and that friend cashes in the ticket with a phony story, is he any better than the former drug dealer who is given a winning ticket by the same ringleader, and is going to tell a similar story, yet spend his winnings on a yacht? What about if the ringleader sends a million-dollar winner to St. Jude Children’s Hospital? That actually happened.

I understand both sides of these kinds of debates. Instead of wading into the debate whether I got a lenient or tough sentence, I accepted it and tried never to question it too deeply. The judge decided what was proper, and radical acceptance was the fastest way to deal with it. I see both sides of the debate. You cannot get away with what I did, but did six months in jail teach me anything three months, or two weeks, wouldn’t have? Those questions can never be answered, so why waste energy asking? Because it makes for an interesting debate, I guess.

The most important theme for me in McMillions, though, was forgiveness and understanding. No matter how you feel about my ultimate punishment, I think we can all agree I made a mistake worse than most people ever will. Ignoring my professional life and the fallout there, my mistake was the kind of thing that echoes throughout relationships with family and friends, causing them to face introspection over what I did. Many friends dropped me and will never give me the chance to prove I’ve changed. Some family members are just starting to talk to me after 6-7 years and some still won’t. It’s nothing I can control, but it certainly is a situation I created, not them.

My transgressions caused a world of embarrassment and shame for my close relatives. My daughter had to switch schools. My wife was released from her job under BS circumstances. Emotionally, those close to me felt a lot of heartache seeing me in such dire straits, not knowing my legal fate. I’m sure it caused anger, pity and scorn that they hid well. My crimes, and the attention brought to them because of my community stature at the time, rocked a lot of people’s worlds. I didn’t really care what happened to me through most of it. I cared about what happened to all of the people who didn’t deserve the pain and inconvenience my horrible decision making caused because I knew none of them would ever do that kind of thing to hurt me.

When I was going through the legal process, I met many officials who I could tell thought I was just a piece of shit, didn’t give me a second thought and saw the world in black-and-white. I was a statistic, a charge on the docket or just another inmate. These are the kind of people who have helped make this world so divided. They refuse to see nuance in situations that deserve it. Thankfully, I also met a lot of deeply decent human beings in both the justice and law enforcement side of things. They understood I made a horribly rotten choice, but it didn’t make me a horribly rotten person. I just made a mistake I’d have to pay for, but it was not a reason to condemn me for life. It’s telling when a stranger working to prosecute you knows this, but someone close to you refuses.

Understandably, the web of people – dozens and dozens – who were involved in the McDonald’s Monopoly game scandal, saw many fractured friendships and relationships, but one of the final montages in the documentary showed that nearly two decades later, many bonds can be mended… some can even be forged. The lead federal prosecutor is now good friends with the first person to ever cash in a game piece, the stepbrother of the ringleader. That made me smile.

Speaking of the ringleader, he understandably got the longest sentence, and predictably, some thought it was appropriate and some thought it was far too short. He refused to participate in the documentary and is now living out his remaining years (he’d be around 80 now) with his seventh wife in Florida.

They show the horrible fallout of his choices. Companies went under. Many people lost their jobs and reputations who did nothing wrong. His lapse in judgment hurt so many people.

I thought about if he should have got more time and I thought about if he should have participated in the documentary as he is clearly the antagonist, but I respect the fact he did his time, has not reoffended and wishes to be left alone. It’s his right.

I’m guessing I enjoyed that last episode the most because it’s where I find myself now and where I’ll be the rest of my life: trying to live with a choice that hurt people both close to me and who I will never know, having to live with the consequences, fallout and limitations created by that choice and still trying to believe things can be better than they were before any of this happened. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s never black-and-white. Nothing ever is.

 

 

 

Excerpt from “Jesus Is Better Than Porn”

Note from Josh: Today I turn over the reins to Hugh Houston, who has written the inspirational and successful book, “Jesus is Better Than Porn.” He has graciously allowed me to excerpt a piece of his book that talks about what a mind that focussed on porn needs to be replaced with. I know Amazon is taking a bit of time getting real books to people these days, but there are also Kindle and Audiobook versions available. A link is at the end of the excerpt.

From Jesus is Better Than Porn by Hugh Houston

There were times when I reasoned that dealing with porn was worse than an addiction to alcohol or cocaine because everywhere I went, my thoughts went with me. I had a library of impure images filed away in my brain.  How could I ever get rid of them?  These obscene thoughts had invaded every corner of my mind.  They were with me when I laid my head on my pillow at night and when I woke up in the morning.  How could I avoid them?  I felt like my brain was a haunted house inhabited by a million ghosts.

Imagine an empty glass.  It’s not really empty, it’s full of air.  Now imagine trying to get all of the air out of the glass.  You might try using a vacuum cleaner, but that probably won’t work. The easiest way to get the air out of the drinking glass is to fill it with something else, like water.  The water goes in and the air goes right out.

That’s what I had to do with my brain.  How could I get rid of all of those obscene thoughts that hounded me day and night?  I had to focus my mind on good things.  As I learned to dwell on healthy thoughts, I began to win the battle against those lusty images that attempted to take control of my mind.

The apostle Paul gives this advice:

“Finally, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.”  (Philippians 4:8)

Motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar urged people to get rid of “stinking thinking”. Well, there is nothing worse than a carnal mind using other people for its own selfish ends.  The best way I know of to push all of those immoral images from my brain is to replace them with thoughts which are pure, true, noble, admirable, and excellent.  Our primary battleground in the war against this plague (or any other undesirable practice), lies in what we decide to think about, what we allow to occupy the space between our ears.

In 1427 Thomas A. Kempis wrote the following in The Imitation of Christ:

“Above all, we must be especially alert against the beginnings of temptation, for the enemy is more easily conquered if he is refused admittance to the mind and is met beyond the threshold when he knocks.  First, a mere thought comes to mind, then strong imagination, followed by pleasure, evil delight, and consent. Thus, because he is not resisted in the beginning, Satan gains full entry. And the longer a man delays in resisting, so much the weaker does he become each day, while the strength of the enemy grows against him.”

This has certainly been true in my life. When I resist temptations right off the bat, I do just fine. But if I give in just a hair, leave the door ajar just a fraction of an inch, it soon becomes almost impossible not to yield.  My best strategy (really the only strategy that works) is to avoid every impure thought and to stay as far away from the slippery slope as possible.

Impure thoughts cannot be toyed with.  Only a fool tries to see how close he can get to the edge of the slippery slope before sliding down all the way to the bottom.  The best way to head off feelings of lust is to nip them in the bud.  Act quickly, vigorously, and decisively.  Be radical.  It is the only way to ever break free from the compulsive cycle of porn and lust.

If you’d like to learn more about Hugh Houston or order a copy of Jesus is Better than Porn, click here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07DMF6ZQS

I Confirmed It: Porn Companies Doing Big Business, Recruitment During ‘Social Distancing’​

When Donald Trump went on TV that Wednesday night in early March as one of the last people to admit what many of us had come to recognize in the previous 72 hours – the Coronavirus was the real deal – one of my first thoughts went to how this was going to be the single greatest boon to the pornography industry since the invention of the Internet.

We’re still in it – probably not even at the halfway point – and it turns out, I was unfortunately correct.

As much as I detest PornHub, I’ve got to give them credit for the statistics they provide. Granted, they are not independently verified and sometimes they leave out crucial information (such as ignoring the fact “teen” is a popular search term in their annual report) but I think they are providing a unique window into what is happening.

In late February and into the first week of March, when the virus was really starting to get its grips on Europe and gaining attention in North America, PornHub’s average worldwide viewership was up only 1% to 2% compared to an average day. In the second week of March, when Americans decided toilet paper was the hottest commodity, average traffic rose to 4% to 7% higher than an average day.

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The worldwide numbers exploded on St. Patrick’s Day, rising to 11.6% and have steadily been on the rise, topping out at 18.5% above average daily traffic.

In a PR stunt a few weeks back, PornHub offered its “Premium Content” service to all residents of Italy, followed soon after by Spain and France. That cause a huge overnight spike in Italy, with average traffic up by 5.3% on March 11, but then skyrocketing to 57% above average on March 12. The number fell over the next week, but is still between 25% and 35% above average most days. When the offer was extended to France, their traffic jumped overnight from 5.7% to 38.2% and in Spain, the jump was 12.7% to 61.3%.

Perhaps most troubling is that as the pandemic became truly worldwide, Pornhub extended its free premium service to every person who can find an Internet connection on Earth. The short-term true effect of the extent of this stunt probably won’t be known until the company releases its next numbers. The long-term effect makes me cringe.

You can find data for nearly two dozen countries on their Insights Page. (No Porn Visible)

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While men from the United States are looking at PornHub about 10% more than the average day, women are watching 21% more. In Mexico, the 20% rise for men is dwarfed by the 34% rise of women watching and in hard-hit Italy, while viewership for men is up 24%, it’s up 36% for women. These kinds of statistics are the same in countries like the UK, France, Spain, Japan, Canada, and almost every other civilized country in the world.

I’m not shocked by this because it tends to support statistics that show women are one of the fastest growing segments of pornography addicts along with my theory that with the Internet allowing more anonymity, women are sampling porn in higher numbers than ever. If 100 women were looking at porn in Italy on a January day it became 136 in less than two months. That’s a substantial jump and while not all will stick with it after the crisis, some will, and some of them will become porn addicts.

While most people think PornHub is the biggest porn site in the world, it was actually ranked third as of late 2019 (yet still in the Top 10 of overall sites in the world.) The other two, which I won’t name here, have not tried to build a brand the way PornHub has, nor – to their credit – have offered any special deals to try and profit off of this worldwide self-imposed isolation.

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Speaking of isolation, I’ll be fascinated to see what website traffic looks like in the upcoming months for cam sites. These are the sites where a male, female or couples (the “models”) are on one end of the computer and customers willing to pay them for nudity and/or sex acts sit on the other end. They usually come with a chat interface and an option for taking the models into a private room where only one customer, paying a premium, gets to interact with the models one-on-one, a virtual “private dance” of sorts. Of course, giving these bonus sessions away during a flood of traffic is a great way to get people hooked long after the virus is gone. It’s just drug-dealing 101. Get them hooked for free now and they’ll pay for it later.

While I’m sure that these sites are seeing double-digits increases in traffic, I’m more interested in finding out how many women joined their ranks. Think about it: We have the highest unemployment claims in American history by more than 500% and many service industry employees are wondering where their next paycheck is coming from. While I’m sure it’s not a huge leap for a stripper to make the transition, I have a feeling there are likely a lot of women (and a smaller percentage of men and couples) who either have, or will, make the decision that getting naked and/or getting sexual on their webcam for what they hope are only strangers will help make ends meet. I worry these people have no idea about this online culture nor the long-lasting effects of what making this decision will cause.

Understanding this, PornHub has again flexed its PR muscle. Instead of offering its models around 50% to 60% of the money spent by customers in their chat rooms and on private videos, during the pandemic, PornHub has raised its commission to 85%. Brilliant recruiting? Giving back? Capitalizing on pain? I guess it depends on who you are in the equation.

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I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention Periscope, a streaming video platform similar to that of Facebook Live where hundreds or thousands can watch a single stream at one time. Owned by Twitter, Periscope has been known for its decent moderators and strict rules concerning nudity and sexuality.

That seemed to disappear in the third week of March, according to many users. Now, alongside people hosting cooking shows, exercise sessions and simply looking for company on the ride to work, there are plenty of nude models, people having sex and other explicit, sometimes illegal, material.

Did Periscope sent all its moderators home because of the Coronavirus? I tried to find some kind of confirmation of this online, but came up empty. It seems to me that the easiest job to do from home would be a moderator of an online chat site, right? Why would anything be different?

Of course, suspending monitoring of the rules will bring a lot of new eyes, and a lot of new streamers, to their site. Under normal circumstances, a website that goes from PG- to X-rated overnight owned by a media powerhouse like Twitter would get a lot of attention…but not so much during the modern plague. The media and those in power who would use this kind of news for views and attention have bigger fish to fry, so Periscope can fly under the radar.

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I’m sure there are plenty of other instances of companies that either peddle pornography or have found a way to use pornography to their advantage during the Coronavirus crisis. If you happen to see any, please let me know as I’d like to keep track.

Yes, I believe it’s more important to stay safe and keep your family safe in this confusing, scary time, but I also believe it’s important to not develop new routines and habits that may not be easy to break after this crisis has gone away.

Ironically, I often preach against filtering software as a false sense of power a parent has over their child’s use of pornography. But, we’re living in a temporary world where they don’t have easy access to their friends’ laptops or smartphones. You can actually lock porn down as long as we remain locked down. Now, more than ever, that may be the smartest move.

Prepare for a Post-COVID Explosion of Porn Addicts and An Idea to Keep From Going Stir Crazy

Note: I posted this on LinkedIn this morning, but I think it makes sense here, too.

The saying goes that idle hands are the devil’s plaything, and I think that’s never been more literally true. There are a lot of men and women in this world whose COVID-19 idle hands are likely turning them to online pornography. Not all will end up as addicts, but some probably will who never would have otherwise.

In a world where PornHub is offering premium access to Italian residents in a quarantine PR stunt and other sites are bracing for record-shattering traffic, I fear that porn addiction statistics are going to skyrocket during this worldwide pandemic.

In a normal scenario, I think most of us preach the opposite of social isolation to those seeking recovery from pornography addiction. Now, we’re encouraging everybody to embrace the aloneness.

I only did 12-Step groups for most of that first year of recovery, but they were crucial, as were weekly face-to-face appointments with my therapist and another weekly support group I participated in. Had they all been cancelled, and I was left alone, I don’t think I would have had the strength to abstain that first year, or maybe two.

I think about all of those men and women who have tried to kick the addiction on their own to this point. Many of them are stuck white-knuckling it through their seemingly endless days and even longer nights.

I’m worried about those who will never see the addiction coming. I’m worried about women who think porn addiction only happens to guys or older people who think it’s a younger person’s problem. I worry about people who have told themselves they use porn “recreationally” and didn’t have a problem who now are utilizing it two, three or four times more than usual. I’m worried about younger guys and gals who have never looked at online porn regularly who now find themselves discovering just how deep and dark the world gets and I’m worried about those who are addicted and are escalating the extreme nature of the content they are looking at because nothing else in the closed-for-business world can tweak their pleasure centers.

And the answer is… we have no perfect answers. It doesn’t matter how many letters you have after your name, whether you fancy yourself a pornography addiction expert or not, whether you’ve been an addict or not, or which spiritual building/book/deity you prefer. We’ve never seen a global health crisis in the age of the Internet, nor in a world where porn is so pervasive.

A few days ago, I put out a message on LinkedIn letting people know if they wanted a non Covid-19 person their podcast, I could talk porn addiction, and I was expecting one or two reactions. I’m booked on four shows and did two over the weekend. We actually talked a lot about being stuck at home and the lure of pornography.

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I came up with one potential solution that everybody who feels like they’re on house arrest can utilize. It once helped me. Maybe it can help you in the coming days when it feels like the walls are closing in on you.

For those who don’t know, I once did six months in county jail. With few people to talk to and my safety never an issue, it only took a couple of weeks before I was going stir crazy. The key to keeping my shit together was routine, scheduling and knowing what was coming next.

I always knew the next 2-3 things I was going to do, whether they would take 15 minutes (doing a Sudoku puzzle) or 2 hours (watching another insipid superhero movie on FX or USA). I knew what I was going to do after that, and after that. It allowed me to create the illusion that I was always busy, had a full schedule and always had something else to do.

My activities were reading the newspaper, writing letters, cleaning the pod, reading books, doing Sudoku, doing crossword puzzles, talking on the phone, exercising, showering, writing books, napping, reading the newspaper, playing cards, talking to people and watching TV. I’m sure there were other things I did and don’t remember, but I always had a basic structure for my day, even if the specific tasks weren’t always the same. Sticking to a schedule and having a plan for my day allowed me to have some of the normalcy of my busy life in the outside world and I think maintaining that structure allowed me to reintegrate much easier than I expected.

If you’re an addict, partner of an addict or help addicts and need to talk, I’m here, by email, telephone or video call. If you’re looking for something to read, I’ve got a ton of blog entries on this website and my books are on Amazon. If you’re looking for resources, this site can help, or I can help you find what you need as well. And if you need a podcast guest, my headphones are always ready.

I have no magical answers. Nobody does. But when you think about, we don’t even in the best times either. We just pretend we don’t need each other as much, so maybe that’s a lesson we can take from this weird era in history we’re living through. We need each other so much more than we admit or recognize.