Thinking Out Loud

July 30, 2009

Pornography: Help for Wives, Sisters, Mothers, Daughters, Girlfriends

Redemption comes in various forms.   The redemption of a period of several weeks being counted among the this-could-never-happen-to-me addicted to the internet’s dark side, was a book manuscript that would help females understand what’s going on in the lives of some male they know.

screenshot - book onlineToday marks one year that The Pornography Effect has been available online as a free internet resource.

Sadly, this is totally defeating the point.    The original idea was that as a crisis resource — which describes the under-24,000-words length — this book would be a print product that would be given to women who might be completely unfamiliar with the workings of the internet.    Having the book online is helpful, but that help is now limited to those who can get online to find it.

The original publisher contact — who told me his company did over 400 titles in 2007 — took this one step further and suggested that the book be shrinkwrapped in packs of four or five, so that pastors and counselors could have copies on their desk to put in the hands of those dealing with this problem.   But then came the “backhanded complement” that this project was “too big” for his company to handle.    Hmmmm.

Sadly, I’ve been unable to find a publisher who would catch that vision and meet two industry criteria as to its distribution to retail stores.   But then again, I think this topic is “hot” enough that I’m not prepared to pay an agent to place the title; and some of the largest publishers of Christian books only work through agents.   (Essentially, that’s how they all missed out on The Shack, which, whether you agree with the book or not, you have to admit it’s a major title to have missed out on.)   Perhaps I shouldn’t have limited its potential to the Christian book market.

In the meantime, people needed help; hence the online version.

So here’s the highlights of my book for those of you that don’t want to click the link at the beginning and end of this article.   If you do click; allow about 50-55 minutes to read the thing fully, and since it’s formated as a “reverse blog,” click on “previous entries” to find chapters 7-15.

Chapter by chapter, the book goes something like this:

  1. Any exposure to internet pornography results in immediate changes in relational dynamics between men and women.    A man who watches this stuff over time will look at his wife, or girlfriend — and perhaps even his sister, or daughter, or even his mother — differently.
  2. Addition to porn is at the extreme high end of the spectrum of addictive behavior and addiction consequences.   Its availability is not unlike the cigarette company is standing outside the junior high school passing out samples.
  3. After much exposure, the tastes of porn viewers “skews” to interest in things they would have previously considered reprehensible.   I don’t believe anyone just gets up one morning and says, “I think I’ll look at pictures of naked eight-year-olds.”  Doesn’t happen instantly like that.   But does happen over time.
  4. The long-term consequences of pre-teens and teens growing up with pornographic images freely available won’t be known for at least 20 years.
  5. Immersion in pornographic and related websites will eventually change your worldview on a number of issues connected to family and sexuality.
  6. Porn is more than pictures.    The guy in the office staring at a screen that is all text may well be reading erotica.   Text sites can also be a gateway to visual or photographic porn.
  7. For all the pictures on pornographic websites, don’t expect to see shots of people in love.    Porn sites are all about people “using” other people.  Nobody “cares” about anybody else but themselves and their own personal gratification.
  8. Whether it’s passive viewing on internet sets, or the more interactive nature of chat rooms, the “next step” of “acting out” on something seen online is just a heartbeat or two away from happening.
  9. There is a limitless number of formats that pornographic websites can take.   Many are inter-linked and all of them eventually want to you to produce a credit card number so that you’ll pay for what was formerly free.
  10. Just because it’s set up as “photography” or “art” or “modeling” or “recreation” doesn’t mean it’s not porn.   Many of these are just shallow attempts at establishing legitimacy.
  11. Cartoon pornography is porn nonetheless.   Aimed at kids, it’s actually more dangerous.   And it has a mission:   The incest agenda.   Promoting the acceptance of incest.   (Betcha those other books on this subject didn’t tell ya that one!)   And the kids are watching.   And downloading.
  12. While psychologists debate genetic predispositions to homosexuality, a lot of same sex attraction begins with the internet and is based somewhat randomly on the type of website — and surrounding online community — that gets to a young person first.
  13. If a family member is caught up in online porn, you are — whether you like it or not — engaged in a battle.   You have to start fighting back, for the sake of that person and the sake of nuclear and extended family.   The forces you are fighting are giants and you are David.   But…
  14. …Faith can be the slingshot you’ve got to go up against the giant.   Pray, yes; but pray very specific prayers. Teach your kids self control and delayed gratification.    Be intentional about the spiritual formation of yourself and your family.   But always remember that many people clicked on that first website because of personal hurts that also need to be addressed.
  15. You are not alone.   There are number of different types of resources available to help.

That’s the bullet-point version.   But you may know someone who needs to read this in full, with the topics fully discussed.   For them, here’s the link one more time to The Pornography Effect.

February 7, 2009

Pornography Online: More Public Outrage Needed

As the writer of an online resource on pornography that I’m hoping will be published in book form at some time, I walk a fine line in terms of my personal experience of the stuff.

On the one hand, while I wasn’t immersed in online pornography for as long as most, I certainly did experience its addictive power.   Last week I heard a line that is familiar to many in the AA movement, “Once is too many, and a thousand is not enough.”   In other words, if you’ve experienced the addictive properties of a thing, to go back to it at all is dangerous, and once there, you tend to open a floodgate of possibilities, because you know where all the poison is kept.

On the other hand, I feel a sense of responsibility as the author of this resource to be aware of what’s going on.   So after several months absence, I returned for about two hours earlier this week to see what was going on in a couple of particular areas of the internet — no further clues need be supplied — which have been pushing the envelope of acceptability for some time now.

violation1violation2

Guess what?   It was worth going back; simply because, in one genre, out of a dozen sites checked, five of them had been shut down due to complaints.    The proprietor of one site was actually amazed that his web hosting provider had found his site “creepy.”  Personally, I never found its existence “creepy;” as much as I found it absolutely “astounding” that it had been allowed to remain online for as long as it did; with over a million-and-a-half visitors.

Then, just as I was about to sign off on my revisit, I discovered another such site had been shut down by a service provider who seems to be doing a general cleanup of pages within its domain; but then discovered that within 24 hours, the site had emerged elsewhere within the domain of that very same provider.

So here’s the point.    If you think a particular site crosses a line, you can find out who the service provider is and complain to them directly.   If it’s someone using a blog page — an increasing trend — you can flag the content as objectionable.   People are complaining and they are making a difference in the character of the universe online.

Also, although I didn’t touch on it here, the authors of some internet sites are simply reaching the end of the road and are burned out on the whole porn thing.   One of them confessed as much, saying he had simply “had enough.” Maybe they have an a parent, or an aunt or an uncle, or a son or a daughter praying for them.   That can make a big difference too.

…Next time around for this topic, I’ll discuss the “value” of being identified as someone who has experienced the true nature of this online addiction.   I’m about to be “outed” in a Christian magazine that is read by many of my acquaintances, and it ought to be interesting to see their reaction.   I do feel that the identification — downplayed in the book — can only increase the effectiveness of the book to those who need help in this area.   Someone has to be willing to admit they’ve “been there” before others can be healed.

If you are the wife, mother, daughter, sister or girlfriend of a guy who is struggling with internet porn addiciton, you can read the online version of my book by clicking here:  The Pornography Effect. (This is a reverse blog; the chapters sequence logically, but you click on “previous entries” to read the later chapters.)

If you got here from the WordPress tag “pornography,” this may not be what you were expecting, but maybe you’re not here by accident.   Breaking the addiction is tough, but it’s something you simply must determine to do.   You don’t have to destroy your computer; there is a world of more positive things to see online.   But with the time you’ll be giving back to yourself, you can also interact with people in the real world, do volunteer work, read some good books, exercise more,  or call someone by telephone you haven’t spoken with in quite awhile.    Although it is written for a slightly different purpose, click on the resource in the above paragraph as a first step to taking your life in a new direction.   In just a few days your mind will start to clear and within weeks many of the images you’ve seen and the ideas you’ve been exposed to will start to disappear.     And if you ask him, with God’s help, it is so much easier.

November 7, 2008

Tough Love Gone Wrong: Video Game Addiction

Filed under: addiction, parenting — Tags: , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:25 pm

brandon-crispWhen 15-year old Brandon Crisp’s father, Steve, took away Brandon’s XBox, on the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend in October,  it was simply the frustration of a parent exasperated with his son’s video game addiction.   Now, the family prepares to bury Brandon’s body.   Read the Toronto Star story here.

In other media, John Oakley responds to those who will criticize the parent’s use of what is sometimes called “tough love” writing an opinion article in The Globe and Mail:

Anyone in a position to criticize a parent for resorting to this form of suasion must be leading a charmed existence, or not have kids of their own.

Elsewhere, a technology magazine provides more details about the game Brandon was playing, noting:

The Center for Online Addiction estimates that between 5% and 10% of the population suffers from some form of Internet addiction. It defines the condition as “any online-related, compulsive behavior which interferes with normal living and causes severe stress on family, friends, loved ones, and one’s work environment.”

And the largest consumer electronics chain in Canada, Future Shop, has curtailed the promotion of a new video game releasing this week out of respect for the family.

Update: Saturday November 8th:  Listen to a 22 minute interview with Brandon’s father recorded LAST Saturday, while Brandon was still hoped to be alive; recorded from The Drew Marshall Show.

If you took the time to read the Toronto Star article, what is your reaction?  The question goes beyond, “Did the parents do the right or wrong thing?”  The issue is the larger issue of video game addiction among youth.

September 29, 2008

The Pornography Effect

Filed under: Christianity, issues, parenting — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:29 pm

We have good news and bad news regarding the book project, The Pornography Effect:  Understanding for the Wives, Girlfriends, Mothers, Daughters and Sisters.

The good news is that you get to continue to read the book online for the foreseeable future.   The reason is the bad news:  the publishers we’ve been talking to have either broken off communication or indicated they don’t see the book happening in the next 90 days.   Frankly, the way the U.S. economy is, who can blame publishers for not wanting to take the risk?   This is a “crisis” book on a “crisis” topic that’s been written in a “crisis book” limited length so that pastors can keep multiple copies on hand.   Despite the past successes at marketing multi-packs, publishers aren’t beating a path to our door over this one.

I still think we’re on to something here.   The book tackles the problem of men and online internet addiction by explaining to the women in their lives — and anyone else who’s interested — just exactly what’s going on online.   It offers some new insights and presents some different hypotheses about internet addiction.   It doesn’t offer any easy, three-step solutions to a very complex problem.

So what we do right now?   I’ve been in talk with one pastor about taking the project full circle and doing it in seminar form.  Then we’re back to same issue:  Women in small towns aren’t going to identify another family member’s addition by showing up for such a seminar.   However, people are never as afraid of ratting out their kids!   So we’ve proposed a seminar for parents that would deal specifically with the challenges that are faced by people at the junior high, high school and college level.   Instead of 15 sections, the seminar would have a simple theme:

  • What’s in the picture?
  • Who saw the picture?
  • Who took the picture?

True to form, the seminar would also introduce one additional new idea, which, if you’ve been reading my comments on other blogs, should be familiar to you by now:   An entire generation is growing up without a sense of shame.   And as a result, an entire western society is losing its sense of shame.

They say that one key thing that separates us from the animals — and there are others — is our ability to blush.   We’re losing that.  Big time.  Very quickly.   And if you have kids in the age/school brackets mentioned above, you should be very, very concerned.   Perhaps that would make a good book premise, too.   Why have one unpublished book when you can have two unpublished books?

In the meantime, if you or someone you know has concerns about a third-party’s internet viewing patterns, be sure to send them to link to this online book.   It will help bring clarity of thought to a major issue in our communities, churches and families.

If you’re sending the link to non blog-readers, it’s important to tell them to click on “previous entries” when they get to the end of chapter six.   This book was simply posted on a blog page in reverse chapter order, so that opening the web page, it reads from first to last chapter.   But some people aren’t familiar with clicking on the link to get to the “previous” pages, which in this case, are actually the “next” pages.

Also, while I’m not a counselor or pastor, we did set up a special e-mail address associated with this blog, for people who have questions in dealing with this particular issue.   But you guys get to comment right here!

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