A few days into the toilet paper crisis of 2020, when it felt like we were observing the eve of Armageddon, I began worrying the survival kit I created in 2016 was insufficiently stocked. I hadn’t hoarded bottled water, freeze-dried fruits and meats, or anything to wipe my ass with, but rather a single item I thought would be a lifeline after societal collapse: a portable collection of porn.
“You mean like a USB thumb drive?” a friend asked me recently.
“I mean an external hard drive with a terabyte of memory,” I clarified.
While most of the hellscapes that 2020 threatened us with have not yet turned our world into a Cormac McCarthy novel, my paranoia about the sturdiness of adult-content supply chains was vindicated last month when generations of explicit videos evaporated off the internet overnight. Having saved our species during the darkest, loneliest days of stay-at-home orders, sites like Pornhub and Xtube turned Grinch on December 14 by yanking millions of “unverified” clips from their channels.
As with so many injustices, children were invoked to rationalize the crackdown on adult entertainment. The leading porn aggregators claimed they were trying to curb child pornography and sex trafficking, without noting how their restructuring exclusively amplifies videos and studios from which the websites receive a financial cut.
Charmed as I felt not to be among the onanists coping with the disappearance of their favorite amateur stars or 90-minute cream pie compilations, a black hole swallowing more than ten million videos reminded me that my external hard drive originated as a defense from online porn swallowing me. Although re-branded as a survival-preparedness tool after a psychotic dotard assumed control of America’s nuclear codes, I created my portable porn library to govern my intake at an infinite buffet.
Subjecting my libido to an internet algorithm could occupy hours or weeks of my schedule and overpower my sensibilities in a way anyone who falls into a YouTube wormhole or succumbs to targeted ads might recognize. After curating my hard drive of greatest hits, I resolved to abstain from new internet pornography because there would always be new internet pornography — uploaded every minute and available on dozens of sites — and I could’ve spent significant chunks of my remaining life clicking from one cum shot to the next.
My stockpile of visual stimulation served me well for three years without dominating my free time the way the “Recently Added” sections of porn sites did, but as with so many things in 2020, my prohibition against new online content was furloughed after a month of spring quarantine. I emerged from my foxhole to find an ecosystem where porn stars are less focused on fucking than acquiring followers, and even the hottest clips are sullied by absurd, implausible descriptions that remind me of the lame storylines from the porn of my childhood.
Engaging pornography has been championed as a safer and more responsible alternative to hooking up with sex partners throughout the pandemic, and I’ve added a handful of new favorites to my “pornpocalypse” playlist. However, my relapse into modern sexual media has me feeling as if I’m gorging Thanksgiving leftovers on New Year’s Eve, and reverting to my terabyte diet is among my resolutions for 2021.