The iPhone. How Smart?

My friend Nate Larkin, reflecting on the impact of the iPhone:

The smartphone has changed the way we communicate, the way we learn, the way we navigate. More than that, it has fundamentally altered the way we perceive the world.

One of the most significant ways it has altered our perception of the world is the way in which the smartphone gives you the power to access pornography at anytime, anywhere.

No longer do we have to expend time or energy to figure which newsstand or bookstore we should go to in order to get a glossy magazine, risking embarrassment by having people see us making a purchase.

Nate adds:

The smartphone has also become the primary means by which most of us access pornography. That’s another big change. When I got started as a porn user back in the 1970’s, pornography came primarily in print form, in glossy publications called “men’s magazines,” because porn users in those days were almost exclusively male. (Guys bought Playboy and Penthouse back then. Girls bought romance novels, or porn without the pictures.) Today, however, 40% of the visitors to sexually-oriented websites are female, and the fastest-growing demographic among the sexually addicted population is female. Anecdotal evidence suggests that among adolescents, girls and boys are rapidly approaching parity in their porn use. This trend has profound and troubling implications for our future.

There is much to be said about the implications of women becoming consumers of porn on an equal basis with men.  In short, it signals the crossing of what is, essentially, a final frontier.

And then there is the extreme potency of web-based, endlessly available pornography:

Here’s what makes modern-day pornography — the crap a heartless and highly profitable industry now happily delivers in sample form to anyone, free of charge — so very, very destructive. Today’s porn produces sensory overload. Full-motion video, complete with sound, overwhelms the frontal cortex, the part of the brain where rational thinking takes place and moral judgments are made. It stimulates the pleasure centers located deep in the nucleus accumbens, a part of the brain that cannot distinguish between virtual experience and actual experience. Today’s porn fools the brain into triggering the pleasurable chemical cascade and releasing oxytocin, even though no flesh-and-blood partner is present.

Pornography is already a powerful tool that breeds self-centeredness and de-sensitizes us to the people around us, delivery by “smart” phone only makes it that much stronger.

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