Deputy Current-Affairs Editor Tiarnáin O’Ruairc discusses the online porn industry in light of increased loneliness
The record-high loneliness of Gen Z has become a widely discussed topic throughout many journalistic outlets with surveys showing over 73% of Gen Z reporting continuous feelings of alienation. Although causes such as overstimulation from modern technology, decentralisation of information and the impact of social media have been drawn attention to, there is much to be said about the way in which the modern dating world has seen a rise in single and lonely men. Consensus surrounding this ongoing trend is noticeably quite divided, some people accredit this to men not meeting the relationship expectations of women with a new set of standards resulting from increased social mobility and independence. Recent statistics have concluded that men account for the majority of dating-app users which naturally decrease their dating opportunities since this causes a more selective and competitive dating-app environment to emerge for men which leads to a marginal increase in long-term single men. One thing is clear in this troubling situation: There is a mutual misalignment of expectations amongst men and women in heterosexual relationships which appears to be the source of the widespread issue.
A way in which this problem has been approached is through studies conducted on the impact of technology on Gen Z. In particular, the emergence of the online pornography industry and its effect on young minds. Pornography has become all the more accessible with the unprecedented technological advancements of the 21st century and it has been pointed out as a contributing factor to the overarching problem. In particular, concern has been raised regarding the very young age of male consumers, with the average age of first-time viewership being 12 years old. There is also a gender disparity in underage porn viewership statistics, with surveys showing that a majority of men have viewed it before their teenage years in comparison to an average of 32% of female survey respondents. This has been shown to cause a number of different consequences for both men and women within heterosexual relationships. For men, higher rates of pornography addiction has been a growing issue amongst adolescent teenage men causing many sexual health concerns such as erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation. Many men also report sentiments that porn is not beneficial to them in regards to learning how to be with a real woman. Since there is such a vast amount of pornographic material online, it is easy for more obscene material to be viewed by impressionable young men. The brutal and dominating role that men typically portray in pornography is also constraining toward them.
For women, a consensus has been growing about an increased pressure within sexual relationships to live up to the standards of porn. Many believe that if they do not adequately measure up with the newfound set of standards, they will not be able to maintain their relationships. Another issue which has been brought to light is that since a lot of porn is not made ethically, there is a growing fear that certain pornography fetishizes numerous violent situations where women fall victim which plays a role in normalising these situations outside the realm of internet videos alone. Some accredit violent pornography as being a force behind various serious crimes. Similarly, several academic studies have pointed to ways in which porn which fetishizes certain social groups which plays a role in shaping how they are perceived by the general public.
In light of the rise in lonely men, a meme has emerged by the name of “sigma male” which has been promoted by popular social media stars such as Sneako and Andrew Tate with millions of followers who are known for their public boasting of sexual excursions. These public figures have received considerable public acclaim and scrutiny alike. In particular, Andrew Tate has amassed a very large fan-base of young men and attention has been drawn towards the influence that he has had on them. The recent arrest of Tate on human trafficking charges has received widespread media coverage and has kicked off a massive public discourse surrounding appropriate role-models for young men along with a growing need to condemn unethical sexual practices which victimise women.