Has our technology become too strong for our morality? (The porn problem)

In five minutes, we can access more obscenity than what our ancestors could access in fifty years. And all that temptation is just a few clicks away on the devices that are constantly with us. Such is the moral challenge confronting us in today’s world of technological connectedness. 

Humanity’s moral muscles are utterly unprepared to face such temptation. Asking people to resist so much temptation can seem to them like being asked to carry a huge boulder. Those who haven’t battled this allurement often fail to understand how irresistible it can become in so little time. What begins as a casual curiosity soon grows to a colossal compulsion. 

When addressing the porn problem, two attitudes are widespread: condemnation and nonchalance. Porn users may be condemned as moral perverts. Or they may nonchalantly rationalize, saying that everyone is doing it. To understand what’s wrong with both these attitudes, let’s develop the metaphor of porn temptation as a giant boulder. Those crushed by a boulder aren’t helped when they are castigated for being under it. Conversely, just because many people are under such boulders doesn’t make their plight less precarious. 

How can we avoid these two extremes of condemnation and nonchalance? By a healthy blend of empathy and gravity. Empathy appreciates why the problem is so prevalent, and gravity acknowledges that the problem isn’t lessened by its prevalence. Empathy and gravity characterize seers who perceive everyone equally (Bhagavad-gita 06.32) — in everyone, they see both the material vulnerability to temptation and tribulation, and the spiritual potential for purification and higher satisfaction. By striving to adopt a similar well-informed vision, we can address this unprecedented human predicament sensitively and seriously. 

One-sentence summary:

The porn problem suggests that our technology may have become too strong for our morality — address the problem empathically and gravely, not judgmentally or nonchalantly.  

Think it over:

  • How has technology confronted humanity with an unprecedented moral challenge? 
  • In addressing the porn problem, what are two unhealthy attitudes?
  • In addressing the porn problem, what are two healthy attitudes?

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06.32: He is a perfect yogi who, by comparison to his own self, sees the true equality of all beings, in both their happiness and their distress, O Arjuna!

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2 Comments

  1. Vision of seers or Truth –
    Gravity = material vulnerability to temptation and tribulation = seriousness.
    Empathy = the spiritual potential for purification and higher satisfaction = sensitivity.
    Thank you for sharing the amazing insights.

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