Matt Forney
Spread the Word!

Generation Masturbation

People sometimes say that the way things happen in movies is unreal, but actually it’s the way things happen in life that’s unreal. The movies make emotions look so strong and real, whereas when things really do happen to you, it’s like watching television—you don’t feel anything. Right when I was being shot and ever since, I knew that I was watching television. The channels switch, but it’s all television.

Andy Warhol

The first time I had sex, I thought it was going to be magical.

I first saw a naked woman when I was ten. My parents had finally caught up with the rest of the world by buying a Windows 98 Gateway to replace their old 386. This was back in the bad old dial-up days, before broadband made it possible to be online 24/7. My dad had slapped a password on our CompuServe account, but I managed to guess it in the usual fashion of how children outwit their parents at the technology game. I got up one morning while they were both asleep, turned on the computer, and typed in “www.playboy.com.”

It became a weekly ritual: sneak online, look at pictures of blonde Russians with perfectly coiffed pubes, scrub the browser’s history afterwards. Head to Altavista for the hard stuff and always end up disappointed. Comb through dozens of portals promising HOT! SEX! and ANAL! ANNIHILATION! only to be caught in a neverending loop of redirects and blurry JPG pics. Read about blowjob techniques and why some girls like it when a guy jerks off on their stomachs.

My prepubescent mind was blown with each click.

The next step happened when I was twelve. We were staying with my grandparents for Christmas, and they had acquired pay-per-view channels through less-than-legal means. My grandpa had three TVs with free HBO, Showtime, Cinemax and all the rest: one in the living room, one in their bedroom, and one in the basement lounge room where I slept. It was two in the morning and I was flipping channels when I came across HBO airing Eyes Wide Shut.

Specifically, the orgy scene.

I had no clue what was going on. All I remember was being creeped out by the cavalcade of masked naked bodies, and by the scene in which Nicole Kidman tearfully confesses to Tom Cruise about her depraved sex dreams. I didn’t sleep at all that night, visions of chiaroscuro depravity searing through my brain.

I first jacked off when I was sixteen. I’d been watching porn long before that, a pile of hidden Bangbros trailers stashed away on my parents’ spare laptops. I’d seen countless hours of cocks, cunts and cumshots, but my feeble mind never put two and two together until one day when I surreptitiously swiped some Vaseline from the bathroom and lubed up. As I cranked and cranked, my mind exploded with ecstasy, building up to the big moment. When I came, I immediately felt filthy, so disgusted with myself I took a shower, even though I’d already bathed an hour before.

I lost my virginity when I was eighteen. My girlfriend at the time was a feminist and anti-globalization activist who cajoled me into handing out free trade bananas at a protest outside the student union once. One night we got drunk in her dorm room and started taking off our clothes. Years of jerking it to porn had prepared me for this, or so I thought. But there was no drama, no buildup, no excitement. We just got naked, stuffed our genitals together, and passed out.

Porn always made sex seem so fun. So meaningful. Yes, I knew that the screaming was fake and the girls were secretly disgusted by taking a jizz load to the face, but still. In real life, even with a hot girl, sex is boring. Blase. Oh sure, I get physical stimulation out of it, as well as the ego gratification of another notch. But there’s no thrill anymore, if there ever was.

There’s only the masturbatory satisfaction of dumping my load in another girl’s orifices.

Years ago, when I was living in Albany, I saw a movie called Choke, based off a Chuck Palahniuk novel. It was about a self-professed “sex addict” who would go to fancy restaurants and pretend to choke to death in order to get someone to save him so he could later hit them up for cash. I never really cared for Palahniuk—I thought Fight Club was an overrated book, though the movie was good—and I scoffed at his protagonist’s description of orgasm as a great big “nothing.” A gay author projecting his own neuroses onto heterosexuals.

Now, I’m not so sure.

Did watching porn at a young age rewire my brain, make me incapable of appreciating the real thing? I gave up porn years ago, but the ennui remains. If anything, it’s only gotten worse. After leaving the Philippines, my motivation to talk to girls has dwindled to nil because I don’t even need the ego boost of getting laid anymore. I’ve decried the millennial tendency to reduce sex down to the level of a bowel movement, but I was too proud to realize that I was also guilty of the same crime.

Sex in America is 90 percent theatrics. It’s two actors on a stage. Girls watch porn and imitate the discordant screams of down-and-out junkies fucking to make their rent. They demand cocks in their rectums, welts on their asscheeks, and sperm in their throats. Men indulge their phony writhing and play-acting in hopes of getting their nut. Ten minutes of slapping fleshy bits together for a momentary flash of pleasure.

And when the curtain falls, everyone goes home to drink and shoot up.

I’ve had exactly one meaningful relationship in the past year, meaningful because it was with a woman who wasn’t expecting me to play a character in her narcissistic fantasy. I wasn’t stepping into some predefined role: Potential White Husband, Sexy Internet Badass, or Walking Dildo. I was just me, and she was just herself. No pretension, just honesty.

I realize that admitting all this will piss some people off. I don’t care. I’ve never claimed to be a player, a “PUA,” or a master of the pussy. I’m just a man, another fucked up member of Generation Masturbation. My brain too warped for love, too uncomfortable with degeneracy, trapped in the middle. Muddling through relationships, affairs and hook-ups, in search of a fleeting bit of ecstasy. Knowing that she’s only capable of doing the same thing to me.

Read Next: Star Trek: The Next Generation and the Failure of Science Fiction