November 2014

Your Eyes Matter

Cyril Georgeson

The world is being changed by technology in ways we would never have imagined. It is no surprise that we had to have a book titled You are not a gadget. We have changed to the extent that we no longer know what it means to be human. People have become so mechanical that many would consider a comment “he is precise like a clock” to be a compliment. An organisation that is efficient “operates as smoothly as cogs and gears”!

So, humans are admired when they are able to show machine-like efficiency and relationships are diminished to ‘gears and cogs’. So also in the area of sexuality we have become mechanical and lost the beauty and transcendence of it. Technology has been abused in this area too. Most probably the worst!

Take the instance of ‘pornography’. The easy availability of pornography on the internet has lured people to a lifestyle that they may not otherwise have got entangled in. A large percentage of personal bandwidth usage of the internet is used for downloading adult content. At the peak of the recent global economic crisis, this aspect of the online industry was running very profitably. Not only are people induced to pornography by their own weaknesses, some are deceitfully drawn into it. Take the instance of a child who was doing a biology project where the search engine gave a pornographic site as the result for the search. The website www.whitehouse.gov is the site of the President of the United States of America. At one time there was a website www. whitehouse.com that made adult content available online. If a user typed a .com instead of a .gov, she would have the shock of seeing pictures that she had least expected to see.

Many cite freedom as the basis for allowing unhindered access to pornography. But the sociological data is difficult to dismiss: Pornography-use is a factor in 56 percent of divorce cases and is correlated with sexual assault.

Mary Ann Layden of the University of Pennsylvania School of Psychiatry wrote of a study that found “all types of pornography (soft core, hard core, violent, and rape) are correlated with using verbal coercion, drugs, and alcohol to sexually coerce women.” The likelihood of forcing a woman sexually was correlated with the use of hard core, violent, and rape pornography. The likelihood of raping a woman was correlated with the use of all types of pornography, including soft-core pornography.

But pornography is worth tens of billions of dollars in the United States and hundreds of billions worldwide. This is more than the combined revenue of some of the giant tech companies.

That figure still conceals the real problem: Free pornography, supported by ad revenues, has increased exponentially. Experts estimate that nearly 90 percent of pornography accessed online is free.

A far better metric than revenue is internet search data. Analysis of Google data suggests that 12 percent of all internet searches are for pornography. On mobile devices, 20 percent of searches are for pornographic material. According to an online statistics firm, an estimated 40 million people access pornography on a regular basis.

Two authorities on the neurochemistry of addiction, Harvey Milkman and Stanley Sunderwirth, claim it is the ability of pornography to influence all three pleasure systems in the brain — arousal, satiation, and fantasy — that makes it “the piece de resistance among the addictions.”

According to Dr. Victor Cline, a nationally renowned clinical psychologist who specialises in sexual addiction, pornography addiction is a process that undergoes four phases:

First, addiction, resulting from early and repeated exposure accompanied by selfgratification.

Second, escalation, during which the addict requires more frequent porn exposure to achieve the same ‘highs’ and may learn to prefer porn to physical intimacy.

Third, desensitisation, during which the addict views as normal what was once considered repulsive or immoral. Porn use creates the impression that aberrant sexual practices are more common than they really are, and that promiscuous behaviour is normal. For example, in a 2000 meta-analysis of 46 published studies put out by the National Foundation for Family Research and Education at the University of Calgary, regular exposure to pornography increased risk of sexual deviancy, increased belief in the ‘rape myth’ (that women cause rape and rapists are normal), and was associated with negative attitudes regarding intimate relationships (e.g., rejecting the need for courtship and viewing persons as sexual objects). Indeed, neurological imaging confirms the latter finding.

Susan Fiske, professor of psychology at Princeton University, used MRI scans to analyse the brain activity of men viewing pornography. She found that after viewing porn, men looked at women more as objects than as human beings.

And finally, the acting-out phase, during which the addict runs an increased risk of making the leap from screen to real life, manifests itself in the form of promiscuity, voyeurism, exhibitionism, group sex, rape, sadomasochism, or even child molestation. The final phase may also be characterised by one or more extramarital affairs.

Cell-phones have also become another menace. Not only are they used to shoot pictures of strangers who may be attractive, they are also used to circulate MMS clips of people in compromising positions. Most teenagers and youths today not only have such content on their phones but also actively circulate it. A recent news report stated that teenagers were under pressure to sext – yes you heard it right – it’s spelt s-e-x-t, meaning sexually oriented text messages.

Then Internet sex addiction or Cybersex addiction is becoming a common problem – where the internet is used almost exclusively for sensual gratification in some form. These addictions range from just online porn to online interaction between individuals to sensually stimulating software. So, it is normal to find individuals involved in chat room conversations where not only is the talk sexual, there is also an exchange of both audio and video content which is explicit. There are also games and movies which are now available that are centred around sexual themes.

Without doubt, technology has encouraged us to sexual voyeurism faster than we would have slid without its aid.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell (Matt.5:27-30 NIV).

Editorial: THE DIVINE AND THE HUMAN - Jacob Ninan

STREAMS IN THE DESERT- Suresh Manoharan

UNDERSTANDING OUR CREATOR - Daniel Sathiaraj

GREATER WORK - Sandeep Poonen

BASIC INSTINCTS - Oby Cherian

YOUR EYES MATTER – Cyril Georgeson

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