Recovering Porn Addict & Founder of 1924us
This episode is with Christian, the founder of a branding agency called 1924us. As a recovering porn addict, Christian uses his platform to speak on the issue of pornography through eye-catching designs and sharing his own experiences. Listen to Christian talk with podcast host Garrett Jonsson about the role being sexually abused as a child played in his struggle with pornography, how he eventually overcame it, and why he believes it’s important to use his company’s platform to speak up on this issue.
FROM THIS EPISODE
- Follow 1924us on Instagram
- Article: How Porn Can Negatively Impact Love And Intimacy
- Article: Are There Benefits To Giving Up Porn? Real Stories From 5 Porn-Free Men
- Article: What Kind Of Porn Do Women Watch?
- Article: Three Ways Porn Hurts Men And Fuels Their Insecurities
- Watch our documentary series, “Brain, Heart, World”
Fight the New Drug Ad: Regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, political persuasions, or any other diversifying factor, porn can impact anyone. If you’ve recognized the harmful effects of pornography in your life, or recognized the harms pornography can cause in society, we welcome you to become a Fighter and take the Fighter Pledge. As Fighters we strive to be bold, understanding, open-minded, and accepting. If you’re ready to become an official Fighter, we invite you to read the full Fighter Pledge and sign it at FTND.org/FighterPledge. That’s FTND.org/FighterPledge.
Garrett Jonsson: My name is Garrett Jonsson, and you’re listening to Consider Before Consuming, a podcast by Fight the New Drug.
And in case you’re new here, Fight the New Drug is a non-religious and non-legislative organization that exists to provide individuals the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography by raising awareness on its harmful effects using only science, facts, and personal accounts.
We want these conversations to be educational, uplifting, and hopeful. As we sit down with experts, influencers, activists, and people with personal accounts, we cover a wide variety of topics that may be triggering to some- you can refer to the episode notes for a specific trigger warning. Listener discretion is advised.
Today’s episode is with Christian Watson. He’s the founder of 1924us, which is a branding agency. First things first, you should probably go check out 1924’s IG because it’s a very unique account, and it’ll give some context to parts of our conversation- you can find a link to their IG in the episode notes.
Christian experienced sexual abuse as a child, and turned to porn as a coping mechanism for quite some time. During this conversation we discussed how it negatively affected him, and his relationships. Today he lives a life free from pornography and it’s influence.
With that being said, let’s jump into the conversation, we hope you enjoy this episode of Consider Before Consuming.
Christian: Okay. Uh, can you hear me at all? Hello? Hello. Hello.
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah, I can hear you.
Christian Watson: Oh, look at that. Okay, good. I just want to say thanks so much. Um, before we get into this, I really appreciate you having me on and, um, wanting to talk to me. I’ve been following you guys now for a couple of years and it’s, it’s pretty cool. I’m excited to be at this stage.
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah, that’s exciting. Well, same to you. We want to express the same level of gratitude to you. It’s a pleasure.
Christian Watson: Yeah, I’m excited. Hey Garrett, can I ask you real quick? Just so I have a better understanding of you. Um, what, what, what is your role in, in Fight the New Drug?
Garrett Jonsson: I am a presenter and, you know, I host the podcast and develop the podcast. So when I say presenter, the way that I started with Fight the New Drug was, it was like six years ago. And I heard a presentation because we do live presentations and I happened to hear one. And, um, and I was consuming a lot of pornography at the time. And I had never heard about the harmful effects, you know, using science facts and personal accounts. And so hearing the presentation, I wanted to do something to build awareness. And so I was about to turn 30 years old. So I thought I ran 30 marathons in 30 days wearing handcuffs. And then I got on my bike and rode from Virginia to San Francisco. So I went coast to coast across the United States, dragging chains. And after that Fight the New Drug reached out to me and they’re like, “We want to do a little video on your experience.” Then after that, they, they offered me a position to like present. And so I started presenting like five years ago. So we go to like junior highs, high schools and colleges and, uh, different community events. And we just talk about how pornography can affect individuals, relationships in society. And, um, and then the other role that I have is with the podcast. So…
Christian Watson: Dude, you’re a legend. Oh my gosh. That’s incredible. My gosh. It’s so casual. That’s amazing.
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. I, I think I’ve presented like to 170 audiences in three different countries and I was just in Louisiana.
Christian Watson: Wow.
Garrett Jonsson: And the reason why I mentioned that is just because, um, you know, it’s cool to see that people are discussing this topic.
Christian Watson: Oh yeah.
Garrett Jonsson: You know, we’re, we’re changing the conversation little by little. And when I say we, I mean, not just fight the new drug, but people like yourself and other organizations, so it’s pretty cool to, to see that change happening.
Christian Watson: Awesome, man. That’s so that’s so cool.
Garrett Jonsson: I’m interested in getting to know you better because I followed your Instagram for a long time now, and I am impressed. Um, with, with you, with Elle, with your brand, it is just an impressive thing that you guys have created.
Christian Watson: Thank you.
Garrett Jonsson: I think maybe the best place to start is just with those basic questions, Christian, like where you’re from, where you currently reside and what you do.
Christian Watson: Yeah. Awesome. Well, I’m, I’m originally actually I was born in Virginia. Um, but then I moved to Oregon when I was a young young boy, about five years old. And I grew up in Southern Oregon and a really small town called Myrtle Creek. Uh, it’s about 3,000 people there at the time and super small high school, you know, like a hundred people in my class sort of thing. And, um, now I’m currently in Australia, which is crazy. And if you would have asked me as a kid, if I’d ever imagined myself living in another country, let alone Australia. I don’t think I would have ever believed that I could answer that, that I was going to, but here I am.
Garrett Jonsson: It’s funny. Cause when I reached out to you, I don’t know why maybe it was based off the name of the brand 1924us. I just, in my mind I pictured the brand being located and headquartered within the United States.
Christian Watson: Yeah, that’s right.
Garrett Jonsson: And when I found out that you live in Australia, when we were going to send you a mic, I was like, wow, that’s interesting. So I’m curious how you ended up in Australia.
Christian Watson: Yeah, so, um, my wife is Australian and she was born and raised here. And um, we met in San Francisco actually over Instagram, believe it or not. And I was randomly living in Texas at the time and had been in San Francisco for work. And then she came over and uh, we met and subsequently started our journey, um, into all of this, uh, craziness. This was about six years ago now. And um, about halfway through one of our trips, when we were in Scotland, we were abroad, uh, photographing for a brand. Um, what happened is Elle couldn’t come back to the United States and we didn’t know why they didn’t tell us why. This is pre COVID and everything. And they were saying that she had done something incorrect. And um, yeah, I dunno, w w we, we were really caught off guard. We were both ready to board the plane.
So I ended up boarding the plane to come back to Portland, Oregon, where I was living at the time with her and she couldn’t board the plane. So she was stuck in Scotland anyway. So…
Garrett Jonsson: That’s a traumatic event.
Christian Watson: [laughter] It’s crazy, man. And it’s, it was so interesting to leave her there. And, um, I don’t know if you’ve ever had this experience, but when you, when you’re in love with someone and you leave them and you go somewhere and you can’t, and you know that they can’t be there with you, you’re like, “Well, I don’t really have any reason to be here anymore.”
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.
Christian Watson: And so it kind of escalated really quickly where, uh, I had to get my visa, which was already pending for Australia because we were going through the process of getting married and everything. Um, and so I just ended up moving. I sold everything I owned and, you know, moved over with a small container to Australia. And here I am two, almost three years later.
Garrett Jonsson: Wow. What a story? This is like…
Christian Watson: She’s allowed back. So it’s okay now.
Garrett Jonsson: This store is like more romantic, like more movie esc to it than like The Notebook, man.
Christian Watson: Wait until you hear the first part of our relationship. I think that’s where it gets pretty unromantic and it gets pretty intense, but it’s all good things that help us grow. So, yeah.
Garrett Jonsson: And Ellie, if I’m not mistaken, she’s pregnant, right?
Christian Watson: She is, yeah. This is our first child we’ve had, um, she’s, she’s miscarried twice. And, um, we’re both really excited because it’s been about two and a half years now that we’ve been trying to get pregnant and um, yeah, 17 weeks. So we’re moving right along.
Garrett Jonsson: That’s a big deal.
Christian Watson: Yeah.
Garrett Jonsson: Good stuff. Well, congratulations on that. Well, I think, uh, the next thing to know is, uh, what you do because I have to, I have to tell our audience that I am in awe at what you do, because you are very, very talented. And, um, so yeah. What do you do, Christian?
Christian Watson: Thanks. So, uh, we run a design agency, um, which I guess is what it would mainly be consisted of. But so basically we do a whole bunch of branding and design work for clients around the world. All of the branding is done in traditional motifs. So everything we do is done by hand, uh, we use pencil and paper to start, rulers old drafting tables and basically every traditional asset for a old school advertising. And then we obviously modernize it and digitize all the artwork and everything, but it still has got that hand-done feel. Um, and then on top of that, we run a little antique shop, uh, in Australia, it’s downstairs of our studio. So we like, uh, Elle, she designs dresses and clothing. And, um, we design like merchandise and stuff for ourselves, as well as selling antiques and, uh, tools for creators. And yeah, we do a little bit of everything. We, we write, and photograph and just pretty much anything creative you can think of. We do it.
Garrett Jonsson: And I think the reason why I say that I’m in awe with your work is because it’s like the, I mean, that genuinely, because if you go to your Instagram or the website, everything is on brand.
Christian Watson: [laughter]
Garrett Jonsson: From, from like the pencil you’re using to the desk. You’re, you’re drawing at to your shoes. Like every single thing is on brand. And that is an incredible feat. Is, does that come easy to you? Like does it’s 1924, is it challenging to be, to run 1924? Or is this like, is it easy because that’s, that’s Christian?
Christian Watson: Yeah, it’s interesting. So this, this kind of has been my life for, um, 10 years ago. This may. So it’s been kind of interesting since I was a late teenager, about 19 years old, I’ve been doing this. Um, and so it feels really natural to me at this stage, but you know, it’s funny cause I wear, I wear like wool clothing and I live in Australia. [laughter]
Garrett Jonsson: [laughter] Yeah.
Christian Watson: People are like, people are like, for those of you who don’t know, Australia is genuinely, probably just a big Texas. It’s just really hot, a lot of the time. And depending on where you are, we’re up on the, in Queensland. So it’s quite warm here year round. And people are like, “Aren’t you just dying and wool clothing?”, but you know, I’ve, I’ve acclimated really quickly. And, um, uh, all those things, I guess we call it curation. We just, we love it.
I mean, we have a really simple home and then like our shop is really packed full of goodies. So it’s just like this, this lifestyle that we love and buy into. But at the same time, you know, we’re out here watching, you know, TV shows and stuff on laptops.
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.
Christian Watson: So it’s not like we’re living in this stone age or anything. It’s just a matter of what we present, I think comes across because some people look at us driving like a Hyundai Tucson and they’re like, “Wait, what? You don’t, you don’t drive a model T Ford or something?”
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah, That’s funny. Well, I watched one of your videos on YouTube and it was with you and Ellie. And, uh, during this video that I was watching, the walls were creaking and you and Ellie were laughing because the walls were cooking so much. And I just had to think to myself, like even the walls, like the sound that the walls are making are vintage, you know, it’s like everything is on brand.
Christian Watson: That’s pretty fun. It’s, it’s, it’s actually gets annoying. I can hear it creaking now, but I’m glad it’s not coming through the mic.
Garrett Jonsson: So how did you come up with the name 1924us?
Christian Watson: Yeah. So, um, when I was a kid, when I was about 17 years old, I was, I was about ready to ship off to Boston. Um, I was going to go study architecture school and my Nana who has passed away about three years ago. Now she gave me a little pocket dictionary and it was, uh, from a husband to his wife and it was dated 1924. And I’ve always been a big believer in the twenties. I grew up in a, like I said, a small town and it’s a timber mill industry. So there’s a lot of those old world values where people believe in hard work and they believe in products that last. And, um, I always found myself believing in that as well. Like if you buy a product that should last you a long time and 1924 just kind of became like the quintessential representation of that. Um, now there’s a lot wrong, obviously with the twenties during that time and a lot of the world at that stage. But, uh, I think there was something to be said about the moral values, as well as the ethical, uh, qualities people had with product development and, um, with their work ethics.
Garrett Jonsson: I’ve gone to your website trying to buy something and the things were out of stock. So I’m going to take that as a sign that you guys are doing alright. Things are selling.
Christian Watson: Yeah, this has been good. Yeah. That’s great.
Garrett Jonsson: As I was preparing for this conversation, I was going over your Instagram and one of the recent Instagram posts I saw there was someone that commented and said, “I came for the photos and I’m staying for the captions.” And, uh, so my question is how does, how does it feel knowing that your Instagram followers are actually reading the captions that you create? [laughter]
Christian Watson: [laughter] Yeah, uh, it’s pretty interesting because I think, especially with things like tick talk and, um, all of these new social media apps that kind of take away from our attention spans and in my opinion, um, I find it actually really kind of amazing and genuine of people that they take the time to read what we’re writing. And, uh, cause I know it’s not always easy and what we say isn’t always correct. So, you know, I’m, I, I’m a big believer in writing. It’s one of my favorite things to do. And um, when I pair it up with photographs, we love it’s, it’s, it’s cool. It’s kind of like, you know, capturing someone’s attention from an image perspective. And then you kind of have a story underneath that either accompanies it or contrasts it. And, um, it’s pretty special to me that people actually take the time to read our captions, even if they don’t always agree with what we have to say.
Garrett Jonsson: Well, you’re a person that uses your platform to speak about topics that are important to you. And as I’ve followed your Instagram over the course of a couple of years, uh, I’ve noticed that from time to time, you’re a person that speaks out and uses your platform to educate about the harmful effects of pornography and sexual exploitation. Um, why have you decided to use your platform in that way?
Christian Watson: Yeah. Um, so I always found myself because I don’t know if you know this about us, but we, we actually had, um, some years ago, I think back in 2017, we had, we had another Instagram and it was called 1920 for us as well, actually. And, um, but it had had a pretty substantially high following of about, you know, nearly 700,000 followers.
Garrett Jonsson: Oh, wow. I didn’t know that.
Christian Watson: Yeah. At the time, yeah. At the, at the time I was posting very similar stuff, you know, very much, um, interesting photographs and cool antiques and you know, it was one of those things that kind of blew up. Uh, I I’ve been on Instagram since 2012 since around the first couple of years it came out and, um, have been with it to grow. But at the time, um, I actually was in a really deep, uh, sad part of my life, I guess, uh, very depressed and extremely addicted to pornography.
And, um, one of the things that came out of being with Elle early on in our relationship was that she discovered I had been unfaithful to her, you know, cheating and stuff. And, um, it wasn’t just once it was quite often. And I had only ever assumed that this was a normal part of my life and it was really hard on her, but she had this amazing outlook on everything where she just had this crazy piece about her and it was only, you know, what I can describe as being a spiritual piece where she was completely, you know, she wasn’t affected by me so much. She was like, she got angry for second. And I was like, “You know what? It’s not even worth me…” cause it’s, “it’s not worth it.” You know? And, um, so she ended up, she was staying with me in Portland at the time and she ended up flying back to Australia where I had to kind of figure things out myself.
And at this stage, um, Instagram had been for me like, uh, an echo chamber. I had easily been able to just kind of present this idealized version of myself that felt like I was getting, um, admiration and justification from every angle. When in reality on, on the inside, I was, you know, quite a terrible guy and not really thinking about other people’s feelings. And it had really bred sort of a narcissistic perspective in my life that I didn’t realize I had. Um, yeah. And pornography was one of those things. So anyway, so I deleted that Instagram. I decided, you know, I’m not gonna let myself buy into this whole thing because the whole, I always speak about authentic newness and like trying to be, or authenticity and trying to be a genuine person online. When in reality I was doing the opposite of that, uh, to this large following. And so I deleted the instagram.
Garrett Jonsson: So you deleted an Instagram that had 700,000 followers?
Christian Watson: I did. Yeah.
Garrett Jonsson: Wow.
Christian Watson: And then it was, um, it was pretty interesting cause at the time, um, I announced that I was going away and I just saw, I mean, social media addiction is another thing that we can get into, you know, I’m sure you would understand that. But for me it was such a problem and I didn’t realize how much it would problem. It was in the society that we are in until I mentioned I was deleting it. And then I got like dozens of phone calls and emails and texts, people asking me if I could change it over to them that their families were struggling and that they were poor or starving and that if they had access to the following that they could do good in life. And it was really crazy.
Garrett Jonsson: That’s interesting.
Christian Watson: Yeah. It, it, it blew my mind. Uh, but so I deleted that and then about half a year…
Garrett Jonsson: Did…
Christian Watson: Oh, sorry.
Garrett Jonsson: This is just a wild experience. The fact that you deleted an Instagram that has 700,000 followers because you identified that it was becoming an unhealthy thing for you. I, that is impressive. I don’t know how many people would do that? I don’t think very many people would take the initiative and actually press the delete button, man. That’s that’s impressive. Anyway, keep going.
Christian Watson: [laughter] Yeah. Well, it’s funny you say that because, you know, I, I hyped it up to be this big deal as well. And I was telling Elle and I was like, “I’m going to delete it. I’m going to delete it.” And she was like, “Okay?”, like she just did not care. She didn’t buy into it. And I really appreciated her perspective because it was such a grounded perspective. You know, it was like, she had always been happy. She’d always been present. And I saw this piece in her that I so badly wanted for myself and I couldn’t get it through these, you know, I was trying to obtain it through followers or whatever.
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.
Christian Watson: I have friends who have, you know, 3 million, 4 million followers on Instagram and they’re always chasing, “Oh, I’m so close to getting 5 million.” And you’re just like, “What the heck? Like when does this ever stop?”
Garrett Jonsson: Right.
Christian Watson: And it’s just chasing it forever. But anyway, so I was like, “I’m not going to, you know, disable…” um, I think is the term or, you know, where you can temporarily ban your account. I was like, “I’m just going to delete it straight up, you know, full stop.”
Garrett Jonsson: Wow.
Christian Watson: And so that’s what I did. And, um, anyway, six months later I started up a new one and I just wanted to focus on my work and my work alone. And, um, that’s quickly what I did. And it, you know, for a long time, uh, I was kind of concerned that, you know, maybe people were only hiring the or buying products from us because we had a large following and not because they actually liked our work. Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong. I mean, our work only increased, which was amazing. As, you know, we, we would tell clients is that we’re like, “Hey, we don’t have that Instagram anymore.”
And we’re like, “We don’t care. We still want you to work for us.” And, and that was actually really reassuring because it made me see that it was about the work and not necessarily about the clout, I guess.
Garrett Jonsson: Right.
Christian Watson: And, um, but yeah, so it wasn’t until about a year after we had started that Instagram that I decided, you know, well, my one regret, uh, as I went through therapy and, uh, psychiatry and counseling and all this stuff, um, which sounds like a lot of work, but actually it was fairly simple. So I decided that I wanted to use my platform now to speak out about really terrible things that were a normal part of my life. Um, at that stage I was so such a person of sound mind, at least that’s what I believed. And, um, I believe porn was normal. And, uh, now I’m at this point where I had done all this research and heard all of these statistics and all of this studies and, you know, these one-on-one accounts and, and, um, yeah, so anyway, I, I just decided that I really wanted to bring awareness to, to all this stuff through our new Instagram. And, um, I’m glad we started
Garrett Jonsson: Well. So where are we? What a journey.
Christian Watson: [laughter] Sorry. Long story.
Garrett Jonsson: No, that’s a great, that was very interesting. Um, one of the questions that came up as you were talking about, uh, the Instagram creating some level of arrogance or like narcissistic behaviors, and then you mentioned that pornography was doing something similar to you. Can you talk to that a little bit about how pornography maybe increased your, the level of arrogance that you felt?
Christian Watson: Yeah. So I have to S I think it’s important to lead off with I’m, I’m, I’m a survivor of sexual abuse. Although I think survivor is like such a strong word, and I don’t mean to downgrade it, um, for anybody else. But as a kid, I was, I was molested, um, by another boy and it was tough because, um, I didn’t realize at the time, how much of a negative impact that would have on me, I was eight years old and this went on until I was about 12. And, um, I really changed how I saw sex. You know, I think that’s kind of normal for most people who go through through that experience. And for me, pornography became a tool that helped me normalize what had happened to me. And so rather than trying to understand it from like, “Oh, this was wrong.”I’m trying to explain to myself how it was right.
And pornography was kind of like my way of teaching myself that if that makes sense. Um, and so I think one of those aspects is seeing how men and women are treated in pornography and you’re like, “Oh, okay. So this is how women want to be treated, because this is what to them is, you know, arousing or, you know, whatever.” I’m not going to try to use any triggering terminology, but basically, um, as I grew with Instagram and Instagram kind of grew to be the same thing, I found myself, um, finding that I was chasing clout and, um, you know, people really, I guess, giving me validation, uh, constantly. So whether it was, you know, friends or girls or whatever, I was constantly trying to be like, “Do you love me?” You know, I guess if you can imagine that’s what it is, is like a little broken kid who wants to be loved, but then that broken kid doesn’t know how to ask for that. They just, this is kind of chasing what he thinks the world idea of love is. And so that for me came out through Instagram where I was trying to get like, oh, okay. If I have notoriety, then, uh, you know, obviously the world is accepting of me. And pornography is very similar. Where is, you know, if, if this is what women want, then I can kind of accept the trauma that I went through, if that makes sense.
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. You’re a smart individual. I think that, uh, identifying the pornography was increasing those types of traits or attributes, and then saying, actually, I don’t want that in my life. I think that’s what this show is all about because the name of the podcast is Considered Before Consuming. So it’s like, “What is pornography doing?” And considering those things that are harmful. So…
Christian Watson: Right.
Garrett Jonsson: I appreciate you sharing those.
Christian Watson: Of course. And I think, I think it’s important to note too, before I, um, I mean, I appreciate so much your kindness and, and every bit of, um, kind word you’re giving me, but it’s also important to note that I would say in, in big part because of pornography, um, and because of who I was and led to believe that, you know, I was some great person or whatever. Um, I actually did end up hurting a lot of people in my life and had a lot of unhealthy relationships, um, with women. And, um, unfortunately I, I know looking back, like I, I did a lot wrong in relationships that I wish that I could, um, I guess take back. And so when I think of being on my deathbed and the resentment, I have, it’s, it’s towards, uh, people were nothing, but kind to me who I could not fully open up to because I was only interested in trying to please people sexually or trying to please myself sexually.
Um, I think, you know, it’s easy to sit here and kind of say, oh, you know who I’ve changed and I’m not addicted to porn anymore. But the reality is, is that the, the harms of what has happened as a result of both sexual abuse and of porn use, um, has actually propagated a lot of the, the trauma that I’ve then passed on towards other people. And, you know, I’ve gone back and tried to apologize and make amends where it was possible, but at the same time, I think it’s important to start realizing that there is a cycle of trauma and abuse that happens with porn. Um, and that we often don’t talk about that. I think we often talk about people as being victims and abused and abusers, but we don’t really look at those two things as possibly synonymous with one another.
Garrett Jonsson: Right.
That’s interesting. I think that if I put myself into your shoes, um, the fact that you experienced childhood sexual abuse, and you’ve, you’ve said that you, one reason why you would turn to pornography was to kind of figure that out, to cope with that experience or those experiences. Um, and so I hope that you would have a healthy level of empathy for yourself, Christian, because you mentioned, you know, that you’ve harmed other people because of, because of past relationships. But I think that sometimes pornography and, you know, our past traumas can create walls. Sometimes we’re not even aware of. And, um, those can, you know, disrupt the potential for a healthy relationship or a healthy connection.
Christian Watson: For sure.
Garrett Jonsson: And so I think it’s something that our audience can learn from as well as like, we need to kind of be kind, we need to be kind and empathetic with ourselves because oftentimes we’re doing the best we can and we’re just trying to cope.
Christian Watson: Yeah. No, you’re, you’re exactly right. I think if we didn’t have grace for ourselves, there would be no betterment in the world because shame is such a strong tool. As you know, with, with porn porn users, especially. I mean, there’s this kind of, but it’s not just porn use that shame really dictates. I mean, it’s anything it’s kind of like this, “Oh, well, I’ve already done it. So why not just do it again? I’m already terrible. So why not just continue to be terrible?” Whereas gray is kind of comes in and gives us the conviction to be like, you know what, actually, I can probably be a better person and I’ll feel better and I can end this, you know? So it’s that positive outlook versus the negative outlook, I think is really important.
Garrett Jonsson: So going back to your Instagram, you mentioned that as you opened and you created the new Instagram, um, one of your goals was to use that as a platform to speak to things that are important to you, one of those being pornography. So the question is, how has that been for you as an influencer, speaking to the harmful effects of pornography and sexual exploitation? What types of responses have you gotten from your audience?
Christian Watson: [laughter] Well, I’m sure you can imagine the types of, um, because we’re, I mean, you know, up until even just the last two years, we’ve been kind of, what many would consider a “secular approachable brand” we’ve been, non-religious unbiased, um, you know, kind of accepting of all walks of life and the men that you come in with a polarizing statement like, “Hey, porn is bad.” You know, I think one of the first things we said was you, one of your guys’s taglines, which, you know, “porn kills love” and people would just go ape. I mean, it was, it was amazing to see the animalistic nature of defense and offense that came out, you know, people were on our side and having conversations and it was crazy. Cause we get messages from wives who were like, “Hey, I just decided to bring up your conversation with my husband and then found out that he’s addicted to porn and has been cheating. And uh, now we’re going to counseling.” And on the other side you have people being like, you know, pornography is this amazing thing and you’re never going to stop. So it’s, it’s a spectrum of acceptance and of rejection as well. Um, and so I think it’s just interesting to have the conversation there where anyone can come and talk and I try to monitor as much as I can because people get angry at each other or they get really nasty, you know, the Internet’s a good place for that. But, uh, mostly I’ve found that the good outweighs the bad and the potential for change in individuals, especially young teenage boys is kind of like what I’m hoping to speak to. And I know that women also struggle with, um, pornography use and I don’t want to discount that.
Garrett Jonsson: Right.
Christian Watson: But I think that a big cause of the ongoing sexual abuse we see in today’s society, the reason we have the me too movement is because of the slight acceptance or major acceptance we have towards pornography in mainstream media and how that, you know, no one, this is what I always say, no one wakes up one day and decides they want to abuse someone.
They don’t, you know, no one wakes up and just decides they want to go sexually assault somebody.
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.
Christian Watson: It’s something that they are training themselves and unlearning empathy in order to do. And I think porn use is one of those things. It’s like, “Oh, I’ve seen it a thousand times for weeks on end.” And then eventually you’re just like, “Ah, I just want to act on this.” You know, so no one wakes up and goes from one to one to a hundred. I think there’s slow stepping stones in that pornography is a lot of those stepping stones.
Garrett Jonsson: In one of your recent posts, I saw that, you know, I’m one of the people that reads the captions. And, um, I saw that one of the things you said in a recent post was “Porn is an unethical disempowering industry that turns its consumers into prisoners.” And so I would, as I wondered if you would be able to talk to that a little bit from your perspective, or, um, maybe talking to your personal account with porn consumption, why is it that you said that “it turns its consumers into prisoners?”
Christian Watson: Yeah. And it’s pretty harsh language. I realize. Um, but for me, I, so I started using pornography when I was like 14, I think 14, 15. And I used it for a good portion of my life till I was about 25. And, um, it was, uh, darn near every day experience. I mean, it was very rare. I would go a day without pornography.
Garrett Jonsson: Right.
Christian Watson: And for some people they don’t have this, uh, addictive personality towards things like pornography or alcohol or cigarettes or whatever, you know, um, and for others they do. And so I think there’s, there’s a lot of room in between. And so when I say pornography turns its consumers into and to prisoners, um, what I mean is to say that the people who use it so constantly without ever checking whether or not, if it’s harmful or positive for them, I find that they’re the real prisoners, because you know, you kind of accept the state that you’re in, when you’re a porn addict. In my opinion, you kind of are just like, oh, this is just who I am. And it’s not until you question yourself that you realize how much of a prisoner to it, you really are. And I always say, you know, “Try the two week challenge. Which is, can you go two weeks without even looking at pornography?” And, um, it’s pretty interesting to see how, how many people can’t go 14 days.
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. Yeah.
I think that generally speaking, I think a lot of us live in complacency and in impulsivity and I think you’re totally right. That when it comes to an individual and their habits and their routines, it’s challenging to see that, that reality that you are living in impulsivity or compulsivity. How did you finally… I guess one question I have actually speaking of the 14 day challenge, the two week challenge, when was the first time you tried that and did you accomplish the 14 days on your first try?
Christian Watson: Yeah. So the first time I tried that I think was in August or October of 2015. Um, I think, no, sorry. That’s not right. 20, 20 17 now. Yeah. So I’m on my fourth year, uh, free up porn, which is pretty awesome. Um, you know, I sound like I’m like an alcoholics anonymous and I realize like porn is so, so mainstream, now that talking about as like an addiction is such an interesting thing because a lot of people don’t really want to accept it yet as an addiction, but, um, I know it is anyways, so, so I’m about three almost four years clean. And I remember in 2017, I, um, I had tried or 2017. Yeah. I had tried to, uh, stop and couldn’t. Um, and I ended up going to a church group called four to three ministries. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of that.
And this guy had written this book. I can’t remember his name. Um, and the book was called pornea, which was, uh, you know, the Greek word obviously for porn. And it was a really good little step-by-step book, you know, recovery book of like how to stop pornography. And so he’s got these, these little groups all are all across America and they’re mainly church-based. And, um, they were about, you know, having a good support network of men around you to help you quit pornography. So I’d go to these groups every Tuesday and, uh, go into this group of round table where everyone would kind of bring their story to light. I remember we had this one guy in my class and he was 82 years old and I just thought, and I thought to myself, you know, it’s such a crazy idea to me to think that you’re 82 years old and you’re addicted to pornography and you, and you feel that enough to in, and I just realized, I was like, “I don’t want, I don’t want that to be me.”
And so where I found myself struggling in this group was every week someone come in and be like, “Oh, I slipped up over the weekend.”, and “Oh, I did this.” And so I just realized, I was like, man, I don’t, I just don’t want to slip up anymore. And I understand having grace and compassion for yourself through this process is so important. Um, but for me, conviction and cutting it off was, was almost slightly more important. And um, so I ended up, you know, going two weeks and then four weeks and boom, pretty soon, three months. And then you’re like, “Well, if I’ve gone three months, why not? Six months, six months. Why not a year?” And then, and then, I mean, now I’m almost four years in and, um, that’s not to say that pornography isn’t the most easy. I mean, it’s so easy. You open a tab and you just click a button, you know?
Garrett Jonsson: Right.
Christian Watson: I mean, it’s that simple. Um, but for me now, I’m just like, okay, let’s continue to speak out about this and, and research it to understand, you know, why this is
Garrett Jonsson: So continuing the conversation is that one of the things that helps you stay away from pornography consumption?
Christian Watson: Yeah. It’s interesting because it’s, it’s important to know that activism shouldn’t be used as kind of like a scapegoat for, you know, you shouldn’t be like, “Oh, I’m, um, I’m addicted. And I am trying to hide away from it by being on the opposite end of the spectrum.” Because you know what they say that the closest thing to love is hate. And so, you know, you don’t want to, you don’t want to come full circle and it’s so close when you’re, when you’re constantly in this realm, especially talking about pornography and even some of the responses I get. I mean, you get emails where people are trying to send you. I have people who try to tag me in pornographic images, try to tag, you know, send us Instagram messages of pornographic images. And, um, it doesn’t happen much, but it’s once is kind of enough to, to be like, that’s a really weird thing for someone to do. Like if you knew someone was openly an alcoholic, you wouldn’t be like, here have this glass of wine.
Garrett Jonsson: Totally.
So it’s like an interesting concept. Um, but yeah, so for me, I like to speak about it. Not because, um, it helps me stay away from it, um, because that conviction to me should exist separately, but because I’ve had the conviction to break free, I kind of want to now bring awareness to it, to help others kind of see for themselves the harms that it, that it can cause, cause they might, they might not know.
Garrett Jonsson: Right. As I’ve consumed a lot of your content, I’ve heard you talk on inner peace and uh, I just want to know if you can talk to what impact pornography had on your inner peace?
Christian Watson: Yeah. So one of the things, and I don’t do not recommend this, [laughter] if I can. Um, if I can say that right off the bat is, um, Elle. So I, I’m not close with my family, not super close. I mean, I love them all, but you know, I, I moved out when I was 14 and um, so I’ve always been in kind of very independent and individualistic and you know, if, if someone ditches me in life, it doesn’t really hurt my feelings. I’m kinda like “Cool. Burn that bridge and move on.” you know? Um, but nowadays it’s, it’s much different. So with Elle, Elle was the first person who I really truly cared about in terms of her opinion and everything. And, um, you know, so I went to her right off the bat and told her everything that I struggled with in relation to pornography, which as you know, Garrett, I mean, it’s outside of the world of just looking at pornography.
Uh, when you go out into normal everyday life, everything is all of the sudden objectified and because of the way pornography trains, your mind and the showcase of so much of the porn online, it’s like innocent situations that lead to sexual, you know, I guess expansion. And so for me, you know, it’s like if you’re in a grocery store and you see a girl or see a man or whatever, I mean, it’s like, everything is sexualized. It’s crazy. And so I would tell Ellie, you know, every, every instance that I was struggling with and Ellie would be like, “Oh my gosh.”, cause she couldn’t even wrap her head around it. You know, she didn’t understand how someone could view people like that. And it took, it took me a long time to really kind of, cause I feel, I felt alone in, in my fight.
Garrett Jonsson: Right.
Christian Watson: Um, and it took me a long time to realize this is a lot of people who are spending every moment of their life kind of addicted to sexualizing and objectifying people in every manner of the word. And um, I think people don’t even realize, I didn’t even realize how often it happened to me. And it wasn’t until that I took a step back from pornography that I was like, “Whoa, this is like in my face, like everywhere I go.” And it’s a big, it’s a big step back.
Garrett Jonsson: And that’s…
Christian Watson: And…Oh sorry.
Garrett Jonsson: Well I was just going to say, that’s one of the, uh, I guess
One of the key indicators that someone is experiencing a compulsive sexual behavior, is that preoccupation with it. Kind of like what you’re saying?
Christian Watson: Exactly. Yeah, no, that that’s exactly it. I mean, the fact that it was consuming my mind to such a degree that I couldn’t even like go out anywhere without feeling like that was on my mind. I was just like, “Oh my goodness.” like it’s such a learning lesson and it’s kind of amazing. And it’s, it’s, it’s incredible to learn what our brains are capable of, tricking us into doing in order to make us feel good. And, and, and it’s so important. It’s like exercise and I hate exercise. [laughter] I mean, I’m not going to run 30 marathons in 30 days, like a kudos to you.
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah, well they say “the closest thing to hate is love”, I guess. So you really do love exercise. [laughter]
Christian Watson: [laughter]
Garrett Jonsson: You just don’t know it yet, Christian.
Christian Watson: [laughter] Yeah. Oh goodness. So I love exercise, but um, maybe it’s a different mental exercise.
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.
Christian Watson: Um, but yeah, so for me it was, it was really the showcase of discipline, you know, coming out of a pornography addiction. It was like, cause cause porn, unlike, uh, cigarettes or, or anything else, that’s got addictive qualities to it. Um, porn is one of those things. So some people will say, you know, “You can be addicted to video games, you could be addicted to TV, you could be a Dick, you know.”, whatever. So I get all that stuff. But the intent of pornography is really where the problem lies. And so in my opinion, the commodification of people should never exist. And we were doing that and people try to, you know, traditionally buys it by saying, “Oh, it’s been around for thousands of years.” and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
But the truth is, is it’s nothing is as accessible as pornography. Yeah. And if pornography it’s intention is the commodification of humans, whereas like television and video games and all this stuff have those negative effects, whatever sure. It’s more about the user that it, that it, you know, negatively implicates, whereas, uh, with pornography it’s, it’s not just the user, it’s actually the people on the other side as well. And the fact that the product is free. So there’s a lot of different assets coming at it, you know, from different perspectives where you’re like, Oh, this is, this is wrong from that perspective. And from this perspective and from that perspective, and you can kind of see, you know, it’s not just, oh, I use porn and I’m addicted and no one else can get addicted and you know, everyone’s consenting online and it’s all good and fun and you know, it’s free.
It’s actually like, it’s crazy how, how unregulated and how available pornography and how obviously all these new studies are coming out about, um, pornography and its effects, especially on children. Um, and so it’s interesting cause you wouldn’t give your eight year old a cigarette and if your kid wanted to smoke, they would have to go out of their way to steal it. You know, but with pornography, I mean we would, we, we could go to the library, the public library. I remember how to like get past proxy walls and stuff in order to look at it when I was a kid.
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.
Christian Watson: So I mean, kids, kids are, you know, everyone wants to blame it. The parents firsthand, I think, but really it’s children who are just curious. And I obviously we need to educate our children. I think what you guys are doing, what Fight the New Drug is doing is so amazing because you guys are giving the tools, uh, to, to parents, especially to educate children and to educate themselves on the harmful use of pornography. I’m sorry if I got totally way off track, but that’s kind of, that’s… Yeah.
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah, you’re right. I think one of the common perspectives when it comes to pornography, if you have someone who is more pro pornography, just like you said, one of their arguments might be, “Well, porn’s been around forever.”, but I think you hit the nail on the head because yes, pornography has been around forever and ever, but the ease of access and the privacy hasn’t been. And I think that’s why we, that’s why they’d be named the organization. When I say we, I mean the founders of Fight the New Drug named the organization fight the new drug because it is new in a sense because of the technology, because of the ease of access.
Christian Watson: Yeah. I mean, it’s exponentially grown at rates that, you know, we can’t even comprehend.
Garrett Jonsson: Well, I want to get your perspective on what a person can do to address on wanted porn consumption because a portion of our listeners are stuck in the shame cycle and, or experiencing unwanted porn consumption. What tips do you have for those experiencing that at this time?
Christian Watson: Yeah. So earlier you had asked me a bit about inner peace and for me, where that comes from is just trying to do right by others. It is my belief that you cannot do right by yourself. Um, especially by yourself when you’re addicted to pornography. And I find that a lot of people don’t believe that they are addicted to pornography, um, when they’re using it. So normally, and I think the inner peace in order to achieve it, you have to kind of put into perspective and put into check the things that you do on a daily basis. What music are you listening to? What shows are you watching? What are your habits? You know, everything. And I think all of these little habits, uh, really make up our, our, our, the makeup of our life and our daily lives. Um, and so I find that if you listen to sad songs, 24/7, you know, which I used to do, you find that you’re actually pretty miserable.
I don’t know if you’ve ever felt that connection, but then it’s like, we’ve almost glorified, uh, you know, certain situations because of the habits that we refuse to break, we kinda like love the idea of romance, romance, and heartbreak and sadness. And I think porn is very similar where we’ve kind of romanticized this idea that, “Hey, listen, if I’m single or, you know, even if I’m in a relationship and my wife can’t, or my girlfriend or boyfriend, whatever, they can’t give me what, I’m, what I’m wanting. Then at least I can kind of, you know, get off and, you know, watch some pornography or, or whatever.” And to me, I think the minute that we start using a product in order to fulfill a need, uh, we have to be really careful of what that product is. And pornography is a product that we absolutely use to fulfill a need and a desire that we have.
Uh, and so for me to, if I could give any advice, it would just question, question, why you’re using pornography. Are you using it too much? Because no one, no one should sit here and say, “Oh, port is so terrible and it’s going to kill you.” And, you know, it’s so easy to go that route and I’m as anti-porn a person can be, but at the same time, I understand that it comes down to, you know, uh, supply and demand. Now, if you’re demanding something in your day to day or using it, you know, you’re obviously not supplying it yourself, but you are, you know, cultivating the demand for it. So just ask yourself what that looks like. And if you realize, you know, try that two week challenge, and if you think maybe I have an addiction try that two week challenge, and then if you can’t, if you can’t get past it, maybe there’s a problem. And maybe we need to start researching and taking the time to understand, you know, what are the, not just inward effects of pornography use, which is easy to start there. Um, but the outward use, uh, problems as well of pornography use.
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. That’s great stuff. Um, I think that’s a great challenge to start with that two week challenge. So thanks for posing that.
Christian Watson: Yeah, it’s short. It’s simple.
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah.
Christian Watson: I love it because I think people will say like, you know, “Try a 30 day challenge.” or something, but I mean, in today’s generation, try to try to get anyone to do anything for 30 days. I’m not going to do it.
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. You talked about how our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter because everything’s so quick and so much information. And so anyway, yeah, that makes sense. I like that that two-week period.
Christian Watson: Yeah. I think I, I think one of the, a good showcase too, of where we are as society is, you know, in 2017, I drove to Alaska or 2016, I drove to Alaska and I drove to Alaska in 1987 wagon here with nothing, but my dog and I promised myself, I wouldn’t use my phone. I saw, I didn’t take a phone. I wouldn’t use anything digital. I just took film cameras. And, um, I wouldn’t stay in hotels or anything, you know, I would just absolutely cut myself off from all technology. And I made it 17 days, um, before I almost had a mental breakdown, which is crazy.
Garrett Jonsson: Wow.
Christian Watson: Cause at that time I was addicted to porn and, um, I remember getting back, uh, and as I was driving from Alaska to Oregon, um, I stopped in Idaho and I went to a Walmart and at the Walmart, I checked into the fate, my Facebook on the display iPad…
Garrett Jonsson: [laughter]
Christian Watson: [laughter] in order to use in order to use social media and contact, uh, my Elle and my girlfriend at the time.
And you know, she’s my wife now, obviously. Um, but I remember I was so desperate to be back in control of this, you know, impulse and it was, and that’s not even the crazy thing is the addiction is obvious. But the thing that blows my mind is I wrote a book on this. And, um, the amount of people who told me, I was brave for going 17 days without a phone was staggering. I mean, to think that it’s like, I mean, bravery in my book is like storming a village is one person. And like, you know, you’re trying to do right and rescue people who are, you know, traveler, that’s true bravery, but people are like, “You’re so courageous for going for 17 days without a phone.”
Garrett Jonsson: [laughter]
Christian Watson: It’s like, that’s just mind boggling to me, but that’s where we are. I mean, that’s where we are, where we think that where you sacrifice your self desires is considered. Bravery is just baffling.
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. That’s interesting. When I rode my bike across the United States, I put the goal to not listen to any music or any podcasts or anything audio. So it was just me and the road. And, uh, I was able to do it until I got to Kansas, because…
Christian Watson: [laughter] Because Kansas absolutely… [laughter] you NEED something.
Garrett Jonsson: I love Kansas, but when you’re ridding your bike, the winds, the headwind, and the straight roads forever and ever, and ever, I ended up breaking down and listen to some music. So, yeah. Anyway, it’s my, it’s my, my, my me going across Kansas is like you going into Walmart, searching for that iPad.
Christian Watson: [laughter] Yeah. One of those sounds really heroic. And the other one, not so much.
Garrett Jonsson: That’s funny.
Christian, is there anything that I didn’t ask or anything that’s kinda, you know, uh, thoughts that you wanted to share, but haven’t had the opportunity to share them yet?
Christian Watson: Yeah. So if, if I could just speak to, um, you know, so I’m, I’m going to be 29 this month. Um, and I used foreign, like I said, from when I was about 14, 15 for about 10 years of my life. And in that 10 years, I could not hold the relationship to save my life. And in that 10 years I was so self-focused, um, with, with mishandling my own trauma and things that I went through as a kid and things that I wanted out of partners, I should’ve gotten from, you know, my parents or whatever. So I, I’m one of those sensitive kids that grew up. And as a man, it’s a weird world to be in as a sensitive male because you know, the whole premise of being masculine in today’s society is to be responsible for everything. And you feel like you’re to blame.
So men though, we are the majority of porn consumers. We are absolutely the majority of sexual abusers. We are the majority of human trafficking buyers. So I think it’s important to recognize as a man that you have every ability and every, every power in you to take absolute discipline over your life and to restructure how men are perceived. And it’s not gonna happen overnight. But if you can change it from a personal perspective where you are putting yourself last in order to take care of other people, I think, I think that’s a really big step into hopefully healing a broken world, but also it’s so important that, you know, we’re not just focusing on how victims feel, but how perpetrators should change their behavior in order to set examples for the future.
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. I love learning about masculinity and femininity. I am most definitely not an expert, but I love learning about those things. And as a man who is striving for optimal health, I think about masculinity often. And I think that some of the traits that are traditionally viewed as being masculine in western society can be misunderstood, especially by men. Um, for example, one of the traits that is traditionally viewed as being masculine in western society is independence. One way that some men can misunderstand that trait is by thinking that independence means that they can’t ask for help and that they have to do everything themselves, but that same person might have a dependency to pornography. You see, in, in my opinion, independent doesn’t mean that you can’t ask for help. It doesn’t mean that you do everything yourself. Independence means that you’re free from impulsivity and compulsivity. You see a man can’t claim to be independent and have a dependency to pornography.
Christian Watson: Yeah, absolutely.
Garrett Jonsson: In my mind, that’s a contradiction.
Christian Watson: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think you’re exactly right. And I think with pornography, especially it warps the introspection that we have, you know, the, the time where, and I’m sure you understand, like coming from porn addiction, you spend so much time after the fact when you’re not looking at porn, thinking about how you looked at porn. And so it’s actually, it really controls so much of your thoughts space already.
Garrett Jonsson: Right.
Christian Watson: Even when you’re trying to break free. And so you need to be aware that, uh, like you said, masculinity, isn’t about the fact that we don’t need help. It’s about admitting that sometimes we do need help and it’s not just on you to try to figure it all out because you’re not going to have the answers. Not, I don’t have all the answers. You don’t have all the answers. No one does. Um, so, but if we can take time to listen to each other and hear each other out, maybe we can hopefully set a better example for generations to come.
Garrett Jonsson: Right. And we can venture onward.
Christian Watson: [laughter] That’s right.
Garrett Jonsson: I use the phrase venture onward, but a portion of our listeners will not get that reference. And I know we are finishing up the convo here, but I think we should take a minute to give that context. Can…
Christian Watson: Yeah.
Garrett Jonsson: Can you talk to what that phrase means to you?
Christian Watson: So venture onward has been our tagline for probably the last eight years. And the idea was ironically enough came about like, and I was in the middle of a porn addiction, but venture onward is, uh, my hope that no matter what, um, I will always strive for betterment in my own life. And our hope for the brand is that as it continues to grow, we also will strive for betterment. And so venture onward is always this idea of progressing, not necessarily in the traditional sense of what it means to be progressive, but what it means to live a better and healthier life for not just yourself, but for those around you as well. And so that’s why venture onwards word is kind of one of those, you know, what’s tomorrow and how can I be better tomorrow? Um, you know, as opposed to how I was yesterday.
Garrett Jonsson: Yeah. Well, this conversation has inspired me to venture onward. So you’re doing your job. You’re living up to your mission statement there.
Christian Watson: Thanks, man. That’s exciting. I honestly just love the opportunity to be able to speak and hopefully other men can just, especially young guys can see, hey, you know what? You can live your life. You can go out and try, and you’re going to make mistakes. And, you know, porn is not the be all end all for you. Um, and it never should be. And if you feel like you’re trapped forever, man, there’s always, there’s always better options always.
Garrett Jonsson: Well, thanks for, uh, joining us today, Christian. It was our pleasure and, um, we, uh, we are so grateful for your time.
Christian Watson: Thank you, Garrett.
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Garrett Jonsson: Thanks for joining us on this episode of Consider Before Consuming.
Consider Before Consuming is brought to you by Fight the New Drug.
Fight the New Drug is a non-religious and non-legislative organization that exists to provide individuals the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography by raising awareness on its harmful effects using only science, facts, and personal accounts.
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Again, big thanks to you for listening to this conversation. As you go about your day, we invite you to increase your self-awareness, look both ways, check your blind spots, and consider before consuming.
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