Saving Porn

Lock-Box-saved-images

I’ve talked to a lot of people about how they consume pornography. The conversations usually start out slow, then lengthen and deepen until I find people talking about truths that they have never spoken of, sometimes never even consciously confronted. It can be an awakening, an epiphany. Or an invitation to ask more questions. It can be like therapy, and I’m not exaggerating (at least not very much). People really WANT to talk about this when they feel safe enough to do so.

A refrain I have heard repeated with surprising frequency is that of saving porn. I don’t mean in a large, sweeping, crusader way. I mean on an individual basis, while they are watching porn clips or gifs, or clicking through photos. People tell me that near the end of their porn session, as they are nearing climax, they save what they are looking at. The “best of the best.” In some private folder hidden away on their computer.

Most of the people who have told me this have never thought much about this behavior until it comes up in our conversation. It’s just part of their viewing routine, and perhaps the only act of consumer behavior that is not monitored, focus-grouped, and exploited–although its classification as “consumer” behavior is dubious, given that most of this activity takes place without spending any money. But the point is, many people I’ve spoken to have collected vast caches of images and video clips. They don’t speak of them or think about them, and in fact the majority of them rarely, if ever, go back and look through them. They simply collect them. Hoarding porn. Saving it up for no reason they can name. It’s a striking, yet unremarked upon, collective behavior.

But why? There is a vast universe of free porn available online at the mere whiff of a search term, and that stockpile of waiting material is constantly being added to, repackaged, re-presented. The casual online porn viewer, I have no doubt, could watch porn every day and never see the same thing twice (numerically speaking, that is; if you frequent the same websites you’re bound to end up seeing the same thing a few times). So why save it? Why mark it as one’s own in this way?

I’m sure there are a million reasons, but for my part, I think it’s because even though free online porn click-throughs are experiences we’re encouraged to forget about, hide away, and be ashamed of, there’s a part of many of us that wants to hold onto them. I think that the images we see when we’re at that vulnerable place of arousal, we want to feel a connection to what we’re seeing. I think people want intimacy, even if that intimacy is only expressed by clicking “save” and moving on to the next image. It’s a way to tell ourselves, subconsciously, that this means something to us. That the images on the screen are more than a few seconds of fap fodder. That the people we are seeing are people and that they mean something to us.

I think saving porn when you don’t need to is a cry for something more. A way to make the moment last and to mean something beyond the fifteen minutes in front of the screen. We may teach our brains to erase those moments, refuse to let them rise to the surface as we go about our socially acceptable days, and hide them away from other people and ourselves. But deep down we know that what we see when we are alone with our computers matters more than a few clicks of the mouse. Those moments are sometimes expressions of our deepest, most secret selves, and in many of us there is an ever-present desire to make our secret natures feel real somehow. We go to therapy to pick out the unseen parts of ourselves and lay them out somewhere so we can see them, interpret them. But what we do when we watch porn, and the porn we watch, is often so deeply buried that never will we speak a word about it, even to our therapists. Saving what we watch is a promise to our future selves that this matters, that if we ever get brave enough we can look at our most intimate, private moments alone and see what we are really made of. It’s a way of holding onto something that we don’t feel we are permitted to hold onto.

I wonder what these caches of saved pornography say about us that we never will, until someone asks.

 

2 Comments on Saving Porn

  1. I think this is an excellent post. First, I’d like to say I’m a first-time writer and like to catch your blog when I can, but been a bit shy to post.

    Well written and very interesting insights regarding why people save. Not sure I agree completely about needing something more but definitely agree how it means more than just a few clicks of the mouse. Appreciating beauty, or finding/learning something new I think play a part as well.

    Anyways, just wanted to say I enjoy insightful posts like this one. And congrats on that award.

    -Jen

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