“One of the shadier aspects of the male relationship to porn is that we tend to find out about it versus having honest conversations.”


That line says a lot. It implies that the internet sex activity is most often pursued clandestinely, hidden from the committed partner. It suggests that the presence of this activity isn't ideal, the partner wouldn't like it, and the practitioner knows that.

I've spent most of my adult life hiding one thing or another. It hasn't served me well. Not everything I try to hide is "bad”—i.e., a compromise of my moral compass or a violation of relational trust). But if hiding is required, if I have to do this thing in dark isolation versus in the light of community, then that's a pretty good directional signpost that I should reevaluate.

I think there’s a correlation between unwanted singleness and internet sex activity.

The lack of one (a partner) may lead to the other (the internet as substitute).

Or the presence of one (preferring internet activity) may lead to unwanted singleness.

Reading this piece, which I really enjoyed, I couldn't help but think as well about the destructive power of shame.

Shame is the worst. It is an invisible, silent killer. It isolates. It steals. It undermines clarity, courage, and confidence. We can be ashamed about nearly anything. Shame rears its ugly head when I violate my moral compass, compare myself to others, or give headspace to negativity.

I've come to see shame as a force to be resisted and battled—much the same way that Steven Pressfield battles "resistance" in The War of Art.

In middle school, I was full of shame because my parents wouldn't own a TV. Today I know folks today who are ashamed that they do own a TV. "We should read more," they lament.

Shame tells a successful 32-year-old woman that she ought to feel bad for not having any kids. Shame also tells the 32-year-old mother of four that she should be ashamed for starting a family too early.

It's an equal opportunity joy thief.

In my own personal campaign to live without shame, I've found a couple helpful practices.

First — I should make decisions that are consistent with my values and inner moral compass.

Second — I should stand by those choices, no matter what.

When I'm consistent in both phases, shame loses its grip on me. When I violate one or the other, I'm at risk. (This obviously doesn’t apply to shame that we carry as a result of harm from others, like destructive words or abuse.)

Anyway, to anyone stuck in shame and making decisions from a place of shame: You’ve got my empathy. Escaping the shame cycle—whatever it is—can be tough, especially if you are going it alone. It helps to be in community.

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THANK YOU for this incredible comment/contribution to the discussion. So many wonderful nuggets in there. 😍 The unwanted singleness correlation is really interesting to me- it honestly makes me want to interview some guys who use social porn to fill that human void. I’d bet there’s a healthy mix of those who feel satisfied in their usage to the point that it meets their needs in full; those who feel neutral/indifferent; and those who feel a million times worse, for whom social porn only reinforces their “inadequacy,” but they can’t stop. Phew! Ideas stirring :) thank you so much again for this. Glad we’re both on the anti-shame crusade

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That’s a really interesting potential project. I’d like to hear what people honestly say.

We seem to be in an epidemic of loneliness as a society. So many things that used to tie us together in real life have faded. And so much of our online interactions are look-at-me performative. Which is exhausting.

The stuff we do to fill the loneliness void often leads to more of it.

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This is an amazing response. 👏

Also, is there a correlation between reading this Substack and not having TV as a kid? 🤔 LOL. I grew up in a super rural area and basically had no TV until I was an adult. I seriously pined for access TV shows and movies as a child.

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Unbeknownst to us, this is an internet enclave for no-TV-childhoods survivors!

(I dreaded that other kids would talk about favorite shows and I’d be exposed as a TV-less poser. Seriously--not joking--it came up in counseling years later, the feeling of being a perpetual outsider.)

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Haha I’m laughing. It’s so true! I feel you!

I used to write letters to my mom begging her to let me watch TV and movies. I’d make these like hand written contracts being like sign here and “I’ll do all these chores and get straight A’s if I can just watch this one movie.” 😂😂😂

And now I own the biggest TV one can buy and I let my own child have more liberty than most when it comes to media and my parents still disapprove! Lol

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Thanks for this. I appreciated hearing about the Only Fans spender especially. You never hear men confess to this, yet there are so many successful Only Girls so you know these men are out there. “Social porn” good word choice too.

I’ve never paid for any social porn myself, but I pay extra for intellectual porn—like I subscribe to Hamilton Morris’s Patron and a couple paid Substack’s.


Probably because intellectual friendships are lacking in my life.

It’s not that different.

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That’s a really fascinating perspective. Love the concept of “intellectual porn” 🙌🏽

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