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Porn is unhealthy for a variety of reasons. It can take a negative toll on relationships, it can affect your brain, and the industry is exploitative and dangerous. However, this doesn’t mean that porn viewers are terrible people. Shaming or demonizing people who watch porn won’t help to end the problem. It’s more helpful to understand why people watch porn and to try to educate them about its dangers. Here are three reasons why porn viewers aren’t bad people and why you should avoid shaming them:

1. Pornography can be an escape.

Some people use porn to cope with negativity, including feelings of depression or anxiety. The uncertainty and unpredictability of life can be overwhelming, and porn offers an escape from that. With Internet porn being so varied and so readily available, the viewer is completely in control of what they watch. Viewers never have to face rejection, so it seems like a helpful coping mechanism.

In reality, watching porn isn’t a successful or sustainable way to avoid negative emotions. It’s a temporary escape, and the enjoyment goes away immediately after you finish watching. Many people don’t realize or accept this, though, so they continue to try to use porn as a source of distraction, happiness, or fulfillment.

2. Many people are unaware of the effects of pornography.

In this day and age, the popular opinion is to accept and support the use of pornography. It’s much more common to see or hear people praising porn than discussing its negative effects. Porn videos don’t include warnings like cigarette packages, so some people may never be exposed to the research or arguments against porn. If someone has never heard all the reasons why porn is dangerous, how could they be expected to realize it’s harmful? Ignorance doesn’t make someone a bad person.

3. Pornography can be an addiction.

Even if someone does realize and understand the dangerous effects of pornography, they may feel powerless and unable to stop watching. Like with drug and alcohol addiction, the brain eventually becomes dependent on the feelings of enjoyment that come with watching porn.

When someone realizes that they’re addicted to porn, it doesn’t help that many people in society don’t believe that porn is harmful or addictive. It can be hard to seek help or support for a problem when everyone around you tells you that your problem isn’t valid. This can make people feel very trapped in their addiction and can prevent people from trying to recover.

People who watch porn aren’t bad people for their habit or addiction. Porn itself is the problem, not the viewers. It’s always better to educate and encourage people to give up pornography than to shame them or insult them.