We live in a pornified culture, by which I mean a culture whose sexual values, expectations and beliefs are informed by pornography. Pornography is at the same time an augmenting account of sex (as an all-satisfying, self-contained experience) and a reductionist account (reducing sex between lovers to sexual acts between anyone). Addiction works by joining these two accounts together in a cruel circle, by which the all-satisfying experience is constantly redefined to incorporate more and more of what plainly bears no resemblance to the actual satisfaction promised. The law of diminishing returns takes effect, and what goes up is condemned to come down. What was initially experienced with great pleasure is now dull, and what was seen as gross or even absurd is now desired with great intensity.
The development of a “cuddling industry” is both a plea for rescue from this system and tacit submission to it. Pornography’s great achievement is that it creates loneliness where none should logically exist. Therefore, you have thousands of young adults spending hundreds of dollars on cuddle therapy when they could be spending it in social settings that could land them a free (and perhaps even permanent(!)) cuddle partner. This resembles Kevin Williamson’s stunning essay in which he observed a large group of men paying a lot of money and waiting a long time to watch pornography when cheaper and legal prostitution was readily available. The upshot of Armour’s report on the cuddling industry seems to be the growing number of adults for whom $80 per hour pseudo-sex is easier and a better investment than dating and marriage.