5 minute read

Do Rom Coms and TikToks Trigger Porn Use?

Last Updated: May 13, 2021

Joy Skarka
Joy Skarka

Joy Pedrow Skarka is passionate about creating spaces to free women from shame. Joy is the Director of Discipleship for Authentic Intimacy and desires to reclaim God’s design for sexuality. Currently, Joy is currently pursuing a Doctor of Educational Ministries degree from Dallas Theological Seminary studying how women find freedom from sexual shame.

Try to name three recent movies that did not have a romance story in the plot. Could you do it? I couldn’t. The media feeds us the lie that we need a man to complete us. During seasons of isolation, watching rom coms do not help with our loneliness and actually, can cause us to watch more pornography.

When I was a college student, I struggled with pornography and loneliness in singleness. I can imagine those struggles would be harder for present-day college students to walk through because of the isolation in online classes, remote learning, and working from home. It’s exhausting and triggering. 

As a sophomore, I broke up with my boyfriend and felt extremely lonely. I spent my nights binge-watching Netflix, looking at porn and habitually masturbating, and my days eating ice cream on the couch. None of my coping mechanisms helped with my negative thoughts and feelings. Fed up with my life, I decided to try giving up romantic comedies for a whole month. I quickly learned that not only romantic comedies, but most movies and TV shows, had a romance plotline. And almost all of those plots included sex scenes. 

We have become numb to porn.

These sex scenes fall under the category of softcore porn. Softcore porn is less graphic than hardcore porn. It contains partial nudity and is sexually arousing and stimulating. You can find softcore porn on apps like TikTok and Instagram, in TV shows and movies, and in commercials and advertisements. We have become so numb to seeing these images, that we fail to realize that they are porn.

What our media considers normal today was actually hardcore porn years ago.

When we watch softcore porn, it makes it more difficult to find contentment in singleness, to trust God with our present circumstances, and to pursue a pure mind and heart. The negative feelings that softcore porn stirs inside our hearts and minds trigger us to turn to harder porn. If you want to live free from porn, filling your mind with softcore porn is setting yourself up for failure.

For example, I have frequently struggled with a poor body image. When I see edited graphic photos of women on social media, I immediately am triggered to think that I am not enough. Not pretty enough. Not good enough. Believing that I was not good enough caused me to turn back to porn, which resulted in sexual shame. It kept me in the cycle of addiction. One innocent scroll through Instagram resulted in spending hours watching porn.

The messages we see have a daily impact on our sexual struggles.

We become desensitized to the images and don’t even think of them as porn. Just like with drugs, we need harder things, in this example images, to experience the same rush. We often only think about how hardcore Internet porn negatively impacts our hearts and minds, but we need to take the time to think about how softcore porn also impacts us. Softcore porn can pull us back to hardcore porn.

We must take inventory of the things we watch and scroll through, and instead fill our minds with Godly things.

3 Ways to Live Free from Softcore Porn

1. Give up TV shows, Netflix, and Youtube for just one month and see how your mind changes.

The relationships displayed in media are not real and are rarely a good representation of Godly relationships or Christ’s love. When I took a month away from watching most TV shows and movies, I began trusting God more. At the end of the month, I processed the challenge and thought about the peace I gained and the new faith I had in God’s plan. There was a change in my heart! 

No man, not even the man you marry, will complete you. Only Jesus can complete us. 

We need to fight against the lie the world whispers, that we “need a man to complete us.” If you are single and struggling finding contentment, consider what you spend your time watching. Instead of watching the sex scenes in movies, read through the Psalms. Instead of scrolling through wedding pins on Pinterest, find the community you are looking for in a college ministry like Cru. (Find Cru on your college campus.) Step away from the poison and turn to the one who can fill your longing to be fully known and fully loved, Jesus.

2. Unfollow people on social media and limit your usage.

TikTok and Instagram are filled with softcore porn. Scroll through TikTok for a few minutes and you’re bound to see someone half-naked doing the “WAP,” the “Tap In,” the “3 Musketeers,” or the “Cannibal.” TikTok dances can be innocent fun, but for the most part when scrolling through we are watching softcore porn filled with hip thrusts and body rolls.

I understand that the message to unfollow people who are posting inappropriate content is very different from what the rest of the world believes. The Bible talks a lot about how Christians will look different from the world. In Romans, Paul talks about how we can look different, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (12:2). 

We must ask ourselves, are we being discipled by the culture or by the Bible?

I’m not saying you necessarily need to delete the apps permanently (I love Instagram), but you may need to take breaks and fast occasionally from them. I try to delete the apps for a day or weekend every once in a while to give myself a break and to focus on my relationship with God. I also frequently go through my friends and unfollow people. If someone posts inappropriate content, unfollow them.

Stop allowing the images to seep into your mind, impact your feelings, and trigger your actions. We may not have control over certain triggers like sexual billboards in the streets, but we do have control over what is on our phones. We get to choose the kind of content we see on a daily basis on TikTok and Instagram.

If you have an iPhone, you can also use “Screen Time” in your settings to become more aware of the amount of time you spend on your phone. (Click to learn more about Screen Time.) I mentor college students and I always encourage them to use screen time. They are always shocked at first to see how many hours a week they spend on social media and Netflix. One student gasped when she realized she spent over one whole day, twenty-four hours, on Netflix that week.

While we binge, we don’t realize how much of our week we are wasting away, so we need to pull back and look at the big picture.

3. Fill your mind with what is true, pure, and praiseworthy.

Paul wrote many of the letters in the Bible. And while he was suffering in prison, he wrote, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things” (Philippians 4:8). 

Ask yourself, do TikToks and Rom Coms cause you to think of true, pure, and praiseworthy things? 

Instead of spending hours on our phones, let’s spend time with God in our Bibles. Just like with any relationship, the more time we spend with someone, the more we will get to know them. And the more we get to know God and his character, the wiser we will become at understanding if the things we are watching are true, pure, and praiseworthy.

It is easier to see the moral line of right and wrong when it comes to hardcore porn, but sometimes the line feels blurred with softcore porn. But as we grow closer to God, we will desire to become more like Christ and we will grow in wisdom.

Now is the time to start the new year fresh by filtering what you are watching. Maybe you need to fast from Netflix or YouTube. Maybe you need to unfollow people who could trigger you by posting photos that are inappropriate on Instagram. Maybe you need to spend more time getting filled with God’s Word. Choose one next step and begin making changes today. 

Looking for a community of other women walking through a struggle with pornography? Or are you single and wondering what should I do with my sexual desires?  Join an online group with Authentic Intimacy. New online small groups launch every few months.

  • Comments on: Do Rom Coms and TikToks Trigger Porn Use?
    1. Thomas Lee Mealey on

      Great article. Thanks for screen time idea.

      Reply
    2. Steven Green on

      Thank you. I need all the help that I can get.

      Reply
    3. Dems on

      I completely agree with this article and even reading romantic books- christian or non-christian can be a trigger for some people.

      Reply
      • Michael on

        I’m somewhat surprised that many women are negatively affected by porn use… but, this article makes a lot of sense.

        I’m glad that all of us are getting the help we need to fight this harmful practice (I’m going to disable YouTube & Facebook on my phone for a while; those are the only ones I use).

    4. Taylor on

      I agree with you completely. I have cut out most movies and tv shows and ensure that the ones I watch are more “pure” from these things. I haven’t had social media for years bc I noticed it was all that was on there. I tried getting my boyfriend into this idea too but it was too much for him (he called me crazy) and he left me. If there are guys out here that will have the strength to do things like this, praise the Lord. Yes, we need more solid teaching like this. Not even the pastors in my church ever speak to this level.

      Reply
    5. Andrea on

      Thank you for the article. It gave me some confirmation about actions I’ve taken (social media fastening) and some food for thoughts regarding how to make a good use of our time (give up Netflix and embrace the beauty of art, music, literature, and the Bible)

      Reply

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