Have you ever found yourself with the case of FOMO? Always on alert whenever your phone would beep and on standby to respond to the next text message? Or maybe you just catch yourself scrolling down the newsfeed or watching the next best thing on YouTube?
Those are the tendencies I have whenever I am bored, have nothing to do or I am taking a break from study or work. But have you ever paid attention to the media content that you are consuming? That’s a thought I had back in 2016. I took a step back from the Internet to have a look at the TV shows I watched, the type of lyrics in my favourite songs, the kind of celebrities I looked up to… and I realised that all these were subtly influencing my views on love and sexuality. Media has been tarnished with sexualised images, words and ideas.
TV shows and movies have normalised the notion that love equals sex. Singers and rappers sing lyrics proclaiming the power of the body when displayed and used sexually. On top of that, many people on Instagram reinforce this idea by posting selfies with their low v-cut shirts and short shorts. Even Women’s Health magazines scream headlines about getting awesome, flat and sexy abs (no kidding: I googled women’s health magazine and came across 4 magazine front pages with those sort of headlines). The message becomes clear once you really read into the pictures, scripts and lyrics: your body’s sexual appeal is the most important part of you.
Being surrounded by a media culture that endorsed this mentality made my recovery from porn addiction a greater challenge. Even if I was to attempt giving up on this addiction I would be surrounded by similar images from the media: the sexy underwear ad from Honey Birdette, that sex scene from Fifty Shades of Grey, that celebrity’s article on how to get a “sexy bikini bod”, etc. If anything, I would most likely relapse to my porn addiction!
My solution to this problem was to take on what I called a Media Detox.
What is a Media Detox?
A Media Detox is the process that I took to get rid of media outlets that were contributing to my porn addiction and the modern ideology of love and sexuality. I was spending too much time on the Internet, laptop, phone, TV… and I believed that I needed to cut down my usage and clear away the unhelpful media. One of the important things I believed is that completely abstaining from media would probably lead me to binge on media if I slipped at least once. So I turned to two alternatives to help me in this Media Detox.
I scheduled set times for my media usage
I limited my media usage to 30 minutes each day, which I spread out into two 15-minute sessions before and after study or work. I even had reminders to have a look at Facebook at a certain time, listen to music during this break or watch this YouTube video as a reward for that day’s study session. Cutting down on the time I spend on media helped me to be more careful and purposeful on what I consumed on the Internet especially. I didn’t have to respond to my urge to have a look down the related videos bar of YouTube and I didn’t have to get distracted by that post about that celebrity’s love affair in my Facebook newsfeed.
But there are times when I wanted to go to the movies, listen to music while exercising or unwind by watching anime (Japanese cartoons, for those who aren’t sure what anime is). Sometimes movies, music and anime can be quite inappropriate, so I needed to be more careful and purposeful in this area. So that’s why I had to examine and identify everything on the media that was unhelpful to my recovery from porn addiction and…
I replaced the unhelpful media with meaningful and positive media
Instead of listening to P!nk’s latest song, I filled my ears with Hillsong (I don’t mean that all of P!nk’s music was bad, but I needed to listen to music that would fill my heart and mind with the good, true and beautiful). Instead of watching Community (my most favourite TV show), I watched Fr. Mike Schmitz’s talks on Ascension Presents. Instead of reading the latest celebrity gossip article, I read posts on chastityproject.com.
What I did does sound a bit extreme, but it was so beneficial for my recovery, personal development and, most importantly, my relationships with God, others and even myself. Spending less time on media made me realise the importance of experiencing the present moment and sharing it with those in my life, including God. Listening to Hillsong music made me realise the Goodness of God’s Love and Mercy. Watching Fr. Mike Schmitz’s talks made me realise the truth about God’s vision for humanity and His desire for our communion with Him and each other. Reading the blog articles from chastityproject.com made me realise the beauty of a pure, chaste and authentic love and sexuality, as God had intended it to be.
If you don’t believe me, then you can try the Media Detox for yourself and let me know what you experience!