Filed Under:  Columns, Opinion

What in hell is cyberporn doing to us?

26th November 2012   ·   0 Comments

By Fr. Jerome LeDoux
Contributing Columnist

That just about sums it up, folks. Cyber tools are wonders of the world of science, and, for the most part, they serve us very well. But cyberporn — well, that is something else. Untamed, unchallenged, it is truly a message and messenger from hell. Damning are its qualities of opportunity, availability, easy access, privacy and dangerous concealment.

To this day, my onetime St. Augustine Major Seminary moral theology students in Bay St. Louis Mississippi must wonder what I was thinking when I bought some girlie magazines and placed them on their classroom desks. Surely, this would draw everything and every opinion out into the open, especially in those leaning toward the third sex! Looking back, I must confess that the depth of my ignorance was surpassed only by the puzzling profundity of my naivete. Of course, it is evident that smut magazines can do no more that abet and inflame whatever is sexually awry in any of the three sexes. What a dumb way to “vaccinate” aspiring priests against society’s porno merchants!

God help me had I been able 47 years ago to do that with cyberporn! My good fortune is that I have not laid my eyes on anything cyberpornographic. Believe it or not, I did not even bother to peruse the contents of the magazines I handed out. The more I hear and see from day to day, the more I am driven to keep it that way for the rest of my life.

Cyberporn’s grave evil is twofold. First, it is evil in itself and highly addictive.

Second, it is corruptive of good habits/virtues a person does feature well in her/his life.

So it undermines everything worthwhile in a person struggling to be good and do good.

Just as a radical weakness of alcoholics is the blurring of reality and fantasy, so does cyberspace create a virtual world within which we can find a hiding place from the harsh realities of the world, a welcome escape from people and things that try our last nerve.

Thus, one can feel driven to the Internet by abuse, neglect or an emotionally empty life.

Abetting this escape and refuge aspect of the Internet is the euphoria of liberation and unfettered expression, a feeling of belonging to and being appreciated by the exclusive “fellowship” of Internet visitors and dwellers. The cyber addicts find this escape, refuge, belonging, appreciation and intimacy no?where else and with no one else but the Internet.

So, for the second time in four years, our Fall Presbyteral Assem?bly of the priests of the Diocese of Fort Worth was fed information and analysis on cyberporn. Addict?ion to cyberporn has deep, persistent pastoral implications for the single and married alike. And, oh yes, I did mention intimacy. Perhaps the deadliest part of cyber addiction is the gradual transfer of intimacy with one’s spouse and family to the virtual intimacy of the in-crowd of the electronic shadow world of the internet. As to be expected, marital and family intimacy soon become the sad losers in the high stakes of personal intimacy.

Intimacy’s emotional intensity, strong affection, fulfilling companionship, delightful communication and vibrant thrills rooted in the joie de vivre are all there to be shared on the internet where even the shiest person does not feel inhibited, gauche or intimidated. What’s more, a person — lay or cleric —who has had a bad experience in intimacy by being seriously hurt and alienated by someone close will find a non-threatening environment on the Internet for discovering and enjoying the wonders of intimacy. A larger danger is that one will easily be enticed by virtual reality to venture into cyber intimacy without facing everyday problems of intimacy with a spouse or family in actual reality. This spells obvious and quick disaster for family relations. Worst of all, this can happen where there is no history of problems of intimacy with one’s family.

Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons of the Institute for Marital Healing warns that cyberporn damages marital love by abetting narcissism, the major enemy of marital love; ruins the romantic and intimate aspect; pushes self-obsession with pleasure; kills communication; destroys a spouse’s trust and pleasure; sparks loneliness, anger, conflicts; distorts the idea of beauty, goodness, sexuality and the person; makes one prone to adultery, separation.

None of us can afford to take cyber addiction lightly. No matter how strong we think we are, we had best stay completely clear of anything re-motely suggestive of the fatally-raw and destructive cyber toxins ready to ambush us everywhere in cyber space.

This article was originally published in the November 26, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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