The Verge writer Paul Miller is conducting an experiment on himself: he's going a year without the Internet.
Miller's posts on the topic are routinely fascinating. His most recent is particularly good.
It's about how Miller answers one of the most common questions about his year offline: "How do you look at porn?"
The short answer is that he doesn't. Not anymore.
Aside from a softcore magazine he bought in Mexico one time, he says " I haven't looked at any porn since I left the internet, and it hasn't even been a challenge."
With all the accountability and potential for shame and long-walks-to-the-convenience store that offline porn involves, I've found it an easy vice to give up. I feel like I disappoint people when I tell them this; they were looking for porn-acquisition hijinks, or perhaps the revelation of a secret hard drive stash, or just straight up surreptitious internet use to get my fix. Nope, I'm porn-free and I love it. After years of wanting so badly to stop, a quick rip of an ethernet plug was all it took.
MIller says another side effect of giving up the Internet, and therefore porn, is that he's more interested in going out into the world and meeting girls.
He seems to have figured this out while playing a videogame.
Mass Effect has one of the best space opera setups in any medium. I bought the game soon after it came out, and was immediately enthralled. Unfortunately, it was difficult, and time consuming, and the space car driving mechanics sucked. My efforts at romancing the blue aliens were unsuccessful, and I eventually gave up on the game entirely.
Soon after I left the internet, however, I decided to give Mass Effect another shot. I started from scratch, soldiered through the rough parts, and finished the game in about a week. But what really surprised me about the game was how much effort I put into the virtual relationships inside the game, specifically with the women. True to its reputation, Mass Effect lets you go to sexytown with either an alien or a human, and your in-game choices and sweet-talking dialogue options make it happen.
Now I'm not saying I've never put that much effort into an IRL relationship, I'm just saying I've never put that much effort into an opportunity to see a few hints of 3D generated nudity.
Thankfully, my sex drive didn't stop there. I also began to think about going out to bars. Not virtual "cantinas," but real bars.
A word of warning to those who might follow in Miller's footsteps. He says he now suffers from a physical ailment.
A funny thing happened on the way to asceticism. Essentially, a medically diagnosed case of blue balls. "Swollen pipes" would be one way to put it. Epididymitis is the technical term. It hurt , like a low-grade kick to the balls. My doctor recommended ice, Advil, tighter underwear, and regular ejaculation; my pastor thought I should get a second opinion. Needless to say, it's confused my crusade.
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