The Continuum of Digital Sexual Stimulation

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I spent the past few years learning how to pull the levers and rotate the knobs that use your data to extract clicks from you online. I started to understand how these systems work, and I started to realize I was also addicted to these systems myself. To improve, I conducted research and made changes to my behavior over the course of two and a half years. Now that I am in control, I am trying to bring out the information that will help others understand and improve their digital lives. Enter your email below and share with friends who will also benefit.

This post reveals one of my most important realizations, informed by my field research, that has most helped me better understand and correct my digital life.

Here we go.

We have over time become addicted to a continuum of digital sexual stimulation, with continual production and reduction of digital sexual anxiety and stimulation, through use of both social media and porn.

The pathway for this continuum, involves consuming content on social media, which, as a result of our pornified culture and sexual desirability complex, is often sexualized, producing sexual stimulation and thus sexual anxiety (from being deprived of an immediate channel for that stimulation) that leads us to porn to streamline the release of that sexual anxiety, on the same digital medium. This results in a heightened frequency of masturbation and orgasm because of the endless novelty and arousal in porn. The abnormal depletion of sexual energy causes young adults to go on social media the next day seeking sexual stimulation to imbue additional sexual energy into one’s life: the energy we need to motivate ourselves and increase our receptivity to stimulation and engagement in life. But this then leads to the production of sexual anxiety that leads back to porn, draining us of energy, fueling this cycle back to social media to get sexual stimulation throughout the day, through intermittent profile and news feed browsing while working.

Through addiction and dependence on this continuum, we become addicted and dependent on the mechanisms involved in the production of this continuum: social media and pornography.

It is only by abstaining from the consumption of digital sexual stimulation that we abstain from this vortex, thus warranting us to make changes to our behavior on both sides of the vortex: social media and porn. For social media we should avoid consuming digital sexual stimulation on the news feed or profile browsing, and on porn, well, we should completely abstain from porn, so that we are not excessively drained (from the overstimulation from novelty and arousal that leads to abnormally frequent masturbation and depletion of sexual energy). We should use social media in a minimalistic way: simply to upload content and maintain a profile simply to not signal detachment from the “community”, allow oneself to be connected to others through Messenger, and to maximize visibility for dating and social opportunities. We should not use it to consume sexual stimulation on the news feed or profile browsing, and we should eliminate the consumption of notifications.

There is another feedback loop driving this continuum, which stems from the machine learning systems that are developed by these social media companies to show you increasingly appealing content. The more time spent on social networks like Instagram, the more data, based on past viewing behavior, that the algorithms have upon which to perform calculations to show you appealing content, which increases the pleasure of consuming content on those services, which results in greater use of Instagram, which gives the algorithms more data, further improving their ability to mathematically optimize the content that would be most appealing to you among the people in your network (Facebook) and out of your network (Instagram). While this optimization improves the pleasure from consuming content on these social networks, it truly makes it difficult to resist the temptation to use them excessively throughout the day because of their constant, easy accessibility, which fragments our attention.

Because people often use these services for sexual stimulation throughout the day, the algorithms curate more and more sexually stimulating content, particularly on Instagram, where they have access to a wide array of people to curate depending on the sexual tastes that you demonstrate. With this vortex, it becomes important to develop self-control over consumption of content on these systems, in order to preserve productivity. The self-learning algorithms of Facebook and Instagram make it continually easier to escalate the vortex of heavy, seemingly irrational, self-destructive use, which warrant increased importance of self-control.

To make matters worse, when trying to work on a device, having watched porn on that device creates a sexual, fetishized relationship with your device that rumbles in the back of your head, making it difficult to fully concentrate in front of a lit screen- and making it tempting to distract yourself. When trying to work on the same screen that we use to watch porn, the screen activates a pavlovian association with sex, releasing a sexual stimulant, making it difficult to work and easier to use digital media to distract ourselves in sexualized ways, like viewing girls on Instagram.

For devices that have become fetishized through use of porn, I think that part of the reason why some people have difficulty working is that when using the devices, the mind is trying to lure you to watch porn, because the screen light results in a subconscious sexual activation and association with the pleasure of porn. This is part of the reason why it is tempting to view content on Instagram or Facebook when working on your computer: your mind is becoming subconsciously sexually stimulated by the interaction with the device, and your mind then tries to subconsciously direct you to a path of least resistance towards porn, to satisfy the subconscious sexual stimulation. By bringing you to consuming content on social media, which is often sexualized, you reduce your separation from pornography by imbuing more sexual stimulation into the mind, increasing the amount of resistance and willpower that must be applied to resist use of or porn.

The machine learning algorithms that learn more about what content you want to see if more content is consumed, in tandem with our fetishization of our devices, may explain part of the difficulty we experience in reshaping our relationships with forms of new digital media like social media. What happens is as follows.

The more and more you derive sexual stimulation through pornography via an electric screen, the greater the potency of the distractions to consume sexualized content on the same screen after ejaculation because of the Pavlovian sexual association alongside the desire to restore sexual energy. The increased potency of distraction results in greater difficulty resisting those temptations for distraction, resulting in greater usage of Instagram, which then fuels the machine learning algorithms that cause Instagram in particular to become better and better at showing you what content you want to see based on inferences from your past behavior, which often results in a more and more custom tailored sexualized experience that produces more stimulation and makes it easier and easier to use Instagram more and more, which powers the machine learning algorithms even more, and as a result of the sexual stimulation, increases the temptation to watch pornography, increasing the Pavlovian association that increases the potency of the temptations to use social media, inflaming this addictive cycle.

The machine learning algorithms of social media, paired with a fetishized relationship with a device, results in a feedback loop where the technology becomes more and more powerful while our ability to exert control and defend distraction becomes more and more weak.

We become caught, between porn and social media, in the continuum of digital sexual stimulation.

Benton Turner