22 January 2014


Dr Tissot must be smiling.

A century after fin-de-siecle enthusiasm for cold showers, prayer, the Boy Scouts and YMCA as solutions for self-abuse (supposed cause of same-sex affinity, insomnia, inability to catch a ball or become a successful accountant, hairy palms, premature baldness, ringworms, knobbly knees and other ills) an item in Macleans states that
Earlier this year, Armando, a 23-year-old technician from Oklahoma (who didn’t want to give his last name), was browsing the online news and discussion board Reddit when he clicked a button called “random.” It took him to a forum filled with guys his age discussing what guys his age tend to discuss on the Internet: porn. Only, this forum wasn’t dedicated to sourcing the most explicit sites, but to how people could wean themselves off porn forever. Participants were asked to challenge themselves by giving up porn and masturbation for at least a week. Those who had done so claimed it gave them more energy and confidence and boosted their self-esteem, something they dubbed “superpowers.” 
For Armando, who had recently broken up with his girlfriend, it sounded worth a try. His first attempt to give up what he considered a casual daily habit of surfing the web for porn lasted three days. So did his second and third. By his fourth attempt, Armando says he had come to the realization that what had once seemed like a perfectly normal pastime might not be so healthy after all. He’s been porn-free for two months. He has also remained “master of his own domain,” in Seinfeld parlance (after the episode where Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer have a contest over who can refrain from masturbation the longest). He reads more and works out twice as hard at the gym. One day, after he’d read a book, exercised and taken two cold showers, he dug out the violin he hadn’t played since high school. 
Alas, no indication that a test reveals his IQ has risen by ten points and his acne has quite disappeared!
He’s now aiming to quit porn forever, convinced that his porn habit was responsible for the failure of his past two relationships. “It really messes up your mind for what sex is actually supposed to be,” he says. “It sets the hopes too high for normal men and women to be able to perform at that level. I believe that’s causing a lot of relationship problems among my peers.” He’s also gained enough confidence in his willpower to take on a new challenge: to stop smoking. 
Armando is part of “NoFap,” a growing online movement among young men who pledge to give up both guilty pleasures for a period of time in hopes of improving their lives. (“Fapping” is Internet slang for masturbation.) When it started two years ago, it was a lighthearted experiment to test whether giving up porn for a week could make you more productive. Today, NoFap has grown to more than 80,000 members, many of whom pledge to swear off porn entirely, saying it contributed to low self-esteem, problems with women and lack of career ambition. Recent forum discussions include a debate on the effectiveness of male chastity belts (yes, they exist) and the best software to block Internet porn pop-ups. One post from a college freshman says giving up porn suddenly made him want to cuddle with a girl. “I just want to lie in bed, fully clothed . . . holding hands and being really close,” he writes.