Is technology replacing sex?

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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This summer, I interviewed Dr. Helen Smith about her book Men on Strike: Why Men Are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood, and the American Dream – and Why It Matters. Her premise is simple: More and more American men are making the conscious decision to avoid the drama and heartache that comes with relationships. It’s just not worth it, they say.

The Japanese word for this is “Mendokusai.” How do I know? It turns out this same phenomenon is taking place amongst young people of both sexes in Japan. Not only are many forgoing marriage, they are also skipping … sex. It’s just not worth it, they say. There’s even a word for this. (According to the Guardian, “Mendokusai translates loosely as ‘Too troublesome’ or ‘I can’t be bothered.'”)

It’s bad enough for a society when its citizens don’t settle down and have children. That implies — and, in fact, guarantees — a sort of hopelessness about the future. But just imagine how hopeless a society must be for people to willingly suppress the sexual instinct.

Mother nature created a pretty inexorable urge — if for no other reason than that the survival of humanity is depends on it. (Last time I checked, this is a pretty basic level on Maslow’s hierarchy. And physiological needs aside, think about the psychological and spiritual benefits of individuals having a real-life intimate connections.)

Could there be a connection between what Dr. Helen is documenting here and what’s happening in Japan? Japanese culture and American culture are, of course, a world apart, but technology has made that world smaller. And, in fact, technology might just be the common denominator.

According to the Guardian story, some of the blame for what’s happening in Japan belongs to “the usual technological suspects: online porn, virtual-reality “girlfriends”, anime cartoons…” For example, the article goes on to mention “one man in his early 30s, a virgin, who can’t get sexually aroused unless he watches female robots on a game similar to Power Rangers.”

(Warning guys: If it gets to the point when you need Power Rangers to get it up, you might have a serious problem.)

Interestingly, in her book, Dr. Helen also argues that online porn is replacing the need for American women. This is partly because online porn doesn’t sleep with your friends, nag you on game day, or sue you for child support. But it can also be addictive for various reasons. (Luckily, the trend of anime cartoons, and Power Rangers porn is still a few years off for us.)

This is another argument for us to implement some sort of Sabbath day, where we all agree to unplug from the internet in order to eat, drink, and, shall we say, be merry.

Matt K. Lewis