We have to stop looking to filters to solve our destructive online behavior. Filters have been called “the silver bullet solution” to solving internet pornography use

1) Filters Are Inconsistent: Accountability is Always Consistently YOU

Filtering works by companies and normal people like you and I creating categories that determine “good” and “bad” content. There is some sort of formula (that filtering companies do not reveal) which look for a combination of URLs, triggers, image count on a site, letters and numbers in URLs, etc. When something is determined “bad” it is blocked, or (in very few cases) a paid worker will spot-check the results and make adjustments. Which, according to one expert, is not often the case AND the results are subjective anyway–“good content” and “bad content” are left to the judgement of a company or paid individual. 

Thus, filters are incapable of blocking 100% of dangerous content and cannot recognize nuance or context of how content works in an individual’s life. For example, an article titled “What Sex is Your Baby?” would be blocked as would potentially important content that has somehow been deemed bad by a filtering company. Another big example is medical content, “particularly having to do with sexual health — to many crude filters, it looks just like porn since it uses terms on the naughty words list.” Overblocking is a major problem with filters.

BUT, so is underblocking. Like when those images of Victoria Secret women (who trigger your desire to look at pornography) are A-Okay. 

It begs the question: Why should a company, rather than ME decide what is good or bad… wait for it… ME?

Accountability puts YOU in charge of your own journey and gives you the freedom to consistently decide which content is bad or good for you. No one knows better than you what you should or should not be looking at online that might trigger your desire to look at pornography.

2) Filters Do Not Address the Problem: Accountability Tackles it Head On

Filters offer a temporary fix to pornography’s psychological and social damages without addressing the problem; accountability provides a tool that is proven to help with the recovery process.

Pornography is a drain on society and completely destructive to individuals, families, and social groups. Read some of our posts here and here for more specifics. In a nutshell, it has been linked to sex trafficking, prostitution, dehumanization and violence against women, adult & child depression, adult & child anxiety, erectile dysfunction, broken relationships, and broken families.

Although sexual addiction (which excessive pornography consumption is part of) is still not listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), there is a constant argument that it should be. Pornography is an addictive substance that should be treated as such. Its effects reach far and last long.

Filters do NOTHING, I repeat, NOTHING to address this issue. They slap a bandaid on a hemorrhaging wound.

Accountability, on the other hand, is the first step in the recovery process because it is crucial for anyone ready to make changes in their lives. The key to accountability’s success is outside support–trusted friends who offer encouragement to be better. That support makes it possible to reach goals you might have found impossible previously. Accountability makes a person strong, determined, and capable. I like this quote from a recovery community called “Transcend”:

Accountability is a form of honesty, which directly opposes the denial of addiction. Denial can keep one’s poor choices in hiding. But with accountability a person learns to be honest, transparent, and authentic. And this sets the stage for creating a new life, building healthy relationships, and strengthening one’s self-esteem.

3) Filters are Expensive: Accountability is Free

Filters are notoriously expensive (and they don’t work). Accountability is free to all of us, anytime we are ready to commit to change.

4) Filters Are Easy to Circumnavigate; Accountability Is Fail-Safe

There are tutorials for everything online, including how to bypass filters, how to set up a proxy server, etc. And we all know how simple it is to use other devices. Filtering is not fail-safe by any means.

Accountability is personal and direct. It sets up a system of support with family and friends who hold a person up even when they do not believe in themselves. When a person is accountable they act according to a set of values they know are good for them, with people around them to support their goals. This is a system that is honest, open, and direct. It is fail-safe as long as the person remains accountable. 

5) Filters Create an Illusion of Safety: Accountability Encourages Open Communication

Especially for the loved ones of a person with a pornography problem, they can make a spouse, parent, or friend feel like the threat of online pornography is under control. This leads to parents or spouses avoiding conversations about their loved one’s pornography problem.

Accountability REQUIRES conversation, openness, and honesty. It literally does not work without it. Accountability means that one person is held accountable to themselves and other people–they check in and give updates about how they are doing. What was once a taboo topic becomes a source of connection and healing.

 

Clearly, accountability is the number one tool for people who want to recover and prevent pornography from seeping back into their lives. It is possible to live a life free from its hold, and accountability (not filters!) are the first step to get there.