Emily Yoffe’s writing about ‘Seeking’ is an interesting scientific and psychological look at how basic instincts controlled by chemical responses in the brain, perceived in both us and animals, have become affected by the freedom we have online.

The internet gives us the ability to achieve instant and constant gratification. We constantly click again and again, sometimes only taking superficial amounts of what is on screen, because we become desperate for the next informative fix.

What we are doing, theorized by Jaak Panksen, is ‘Seeking’. We are not achieving true levels of pleasure from what we are seeing online, but instead reinvigorating the constant need to search and forage. This sentence probably puts it into context best, ‘Some of the human subjects described feeling sexually aroused but didn’t experience climax’. We become caught in a loop of always looking for the next fix of Dopamine in our brains but never actually follow through to full release.

One thing Yoffe’s writing, and Panksen’s studies made me think about, is the constant debate we see about internet pornography, and whether it is having a drastically negative effect on human beings.

The constant access to online pornography is constantly debated as leading to people sexual fantasies becoming warped. While porn addiction is widely speculated and many professionals state there is no evidence for its existence, there is conversation regarding the increasing links that online pornography can cause rape.

While I would like to state that my personal opinions are that a normal, healthy minded, person choosing to watch porn isn’t suddenly going to become a rapist or paedophile, I do believe that (especially when you look at what Panksen states about ‘Seeking’) online pornography can create an environment where someone, who has the possible tendency to become a rapist or paedophile, watched pornography to release sexual tension, but the ability to instantly gratify any fantasy numbs the person and they eventually move onto more ‘hardcore’ pornography for satisfaction … and when that stops working they move onto reenacting there warped fantasies in reality.

This isn’t to say that pornography is to blame for someones behaviour, but there is a terrifying amount of ‘rape porn’ online, and that knowledge makes me feel physically sick.

Emily Rothman says, “Pornography is so widely available now, in the Internet age, it’s naive to think that it isn’t having a profound impact on our culture, including the way we interact with each other.”

During a debate about whether pornography is becoming a public health issue, two people said this,

“What I know about sexual violence and rape, it isn’t about sex—it’s about violence,” Queen said. She doesn’t believe exposure to pornography “makes you do the things you see. It’s perfectly possible to see something and not imitate it.”

Dines said “Advertising has an effect on consumer behaviour—we would all agree on that,” she said. “So does porn that involves violence and abuse. The bigger issue is, how is this imagery constructing men’s sexual identities?”

Ian Watkins, the Lost Prophets singer who was recently sentenced to 35 years in jail for an extreme number of child abuse crimes, apparently (according to a report by the DailyMail, so not really reliable) became warped by extreme online pornography. I, personally, sincerely doubt that pornography turned Watkins into the depraved human being he is now known to be, but the internet did make his sexual fantasies more readily available to him, and could of helped facilitate his desire to go from merely ‘Seeking’, to completing the loop and enacting his desires.

Overall, I think that the concept of ‘Seeking’ spoken about in Yoffe’s essay is a very really chemical reaction in our brain, and though it is widely harmless (except to our productivity perhaps) there are some conversations that need to be had about how our desire for instant gratification could warp our interaction with people in reality, especially regarding pornography and sexual violence.

Why does rape porn even exist? Why is there a need for it? It cannot be denied that so long as pornography showing sexual violence exists, people will continue to facilitate rape culture by believing that it is an ok and natural part of life. And the ability to click on it and watch it and countless other videos like it stimulates the desire to keep ‘Seeking’ and will, in some people, inevitably lead to them wishing to get another fix. Just like the humans and rats in James Olds experiments, they would neglect everything just to get that next buzz. Who is to say that people wouldn’t eventually neglect law and consent to satisfy there personal desires?

 

Bibliography

Jaak Panksepp (2004). Affective Neuroscience. London: Oxford University Press. ..

Emily Yoffe. (August 12th 2009). Seeking – How the brain hard-wires us to love Google, Twitter, and texting. And why that’s dangerous..Available: http://cumoodle.coventry.ac.uk/mod/resource/view.php?id=76634. Last accessed 2nd March 2014.

Paul Bentley. (27 November 2013). The Baptist minister’s stepson warped by online porn: Distraught parents of Ian Watkins say he could be remembered like some ‘sort of Jimmy Savile character’. Available: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2514133/Ian-Watkins-The-Baptist-ministers-stepson-warped-online-porn.html. Last accessed 2nd March 2014.

Lisa Chedekel . (2012). Is Pornography a Public Health Issue?.Available: http://www.bu.edu/today/2012/is-pornography-a-public-health-issue/. Last accessed 2nd March 2014.

Kashmira Gander. (2014). Porn addiction isn’t real research suggests.Available: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/porn-addiction-isnt-real-research-suggests-9126530.html. Last accessed 2nd March 2014.

Multiple. (N/A). Pedophilia. Available: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedophilia. Last accessed 2nd March 2014.

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