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It’s been a good year for Damian Thompson. For a start, he’s established the Telegraph Blogs as the best of the newspaper blogging operations; and now he’s published The Fix – an eye-opening, iconoclastic analysis of addiction in the 21st century.

Here's an edited version of his article for the Spectator, in which he explains how the internet is transforming the nature of pornography:

  • “More than 150 million people visit porn sites every year, and the figure will soon rise into the hundreds of millions as the developing world hooks up to the internet… The numbers tell only part of the story, however. It’s not just that digital technology creates unprecedented desire for pornography; the images themselves are shockingly explicit compared with most pre-digital porn. Never before have so many nice people discovered that they have depraved sexual tastes. Husbands who would once have retreated to their dens to pore over car magazines now download videos of ‘teen sluts’ being violently penetrated and gasping for more.”

Thompson sees the internet as a Gin Lane of porn, a revolution in production and distribution that removes the restrictions on something that had previously only been available in mild concentrations and limited quantities:

  • “The difference between old-fashioned porn and internet porn is a bit like the difference between wine and spirits. After hundreds of years as a mild intoxicant, erotica has undergone a sudden distillation. Digital porn is the equivalent of cheap gin in Georgian England: a reliable if unhygienic hit that relieves misery and boredom. And, unlike the old ‘dirty mags’, it is available in limitless quantities.”

In Thompson’s insightful words “the distilling of pleasures is a quick route to addiction”. If he is right, then our society is facing an epidemic of addiction, because cheap thrills have been never been cheaper, nor more easily accessible.

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