The Web: young people today don’t know they’re born

I was thinking the other day about the Web, and how useful it would’ve been in the mid-eighties when I was at University. Not for plagiarism, but just for access to primary texts – of which there’s lots in an English Literature degree. For example, I ordered the only book of the poems of Robert Henryson, which took 4 weeks to arrive and cost me £13 – when a week’s rent on my room was £12.50. If the Web had been around then, I could’ve just Googled for Henryson’s poetry, printed it out and drunk the cash.

Indubitably, though, the biggest boon that the Web has given young men is easy access to porn. Yet the Web giveth and the Web taketh away: what young people today have lost is the adventure and camaraderie that were necessary in the the hunt for masturbatory fodder.

When I was a teenager there were three methods of accessing porn:

But these days, all a 14 year old has to do is to is go to Google and type in “Asian Babes” or “Big Norks” or “Shaved German Nurses in Aqualungs” – or whatever is his particular fantasy du jour – and, hey presto!, unlimited source-material for self-abuse.

Of course, it could be that Johnny Wankmag was actually Tim Berners-Lee himself, and went on to invent the Web as a more effective method of achieving his noble mission while being easier on his shoe leather. But that doesn’t alter the fact that the ceaseless pursuit of filth is no longer a shared rite of passage for the modern teenage boy.

Young people today, eh? They don’t know they’re born.

26 Responses to “ The Web: young people today don’t know they’re born ”

Comment by Tim

Surely you have missed out:
Having a mate who was a paperboy (no rustling jokes please) who had regular unobserved access to the top shelf – or failing that – failed to deliver certaing “subscriptions” knowing damn well the subscribers would never complain and
Another mate who worked behind the counter in a video shop (remember the dilemma – VHS or Betamax?)and could access stuff that would send you blind.
Names have been omitted to proctect the innocent – ish.
Now where did I leave my glasses…..

Comment by Ian Lloyd

You know, that finding story, it’s all true. I found two ‘jazz mags’ on a paper round, and incidentally also encountered the ‘mum finding mags under bed’ scenario. The ting is, I kept those mags for years. They were like the first frends you make at school or college. You can’t ditch them, they have a special place in your heart (or wherever). Nevertheless, at some time you have to de-clutter. You could throw in a bin, but the philanthropist approach seems right somehow! Just pick your place/time (late at night, on a pub thoroughfare – guaranteed not to fall in to tender hands/minds). Anyway, I’ve said too much.

Comment by Bruce

Where did you grow up, Ian? Outside the West Midlands? Maybe we could track the movements of Johnny Wankmag and find out if it all started in London where Tim Berners-Lee grew up? If we can prove that TBL is Johnny Wankmag, he’d almost certainly get his knighthood upgraded to a Dukedom, or even be made Lord Tim …

Comment by Dan

I can confirm that the abandoned porn phenomenon extended to Sussex woodland in the late 70s / early 80s.

As an aside, I had a mate whose mum overheard him saying to a friend that he needed some new jazz mags. She thought he’d developed a healthy interest in free-form music, so trotted down to the local newsagent to ask if they had any jazz mags…

Comment by Chris McEvoy

Perhaps someone would like to start a custom google map?

It would be called Google Whack Map perhaps?

Or maybe you could link it to a GPS and called it SapNav?

And what about the urban porn mags?

As I recall they could be found hidden behind bricks in the docks area of Gloucester as well as well as being secreted on top of the bandstand in the local park.

This example of a Gift Economy has now passed into history in the UK, but it has transformed itself into Book Crossing.

Comment by Bruce

Wow Paul, I’m spooked out by that Metafilter thread – particularly as I’m a lapsed member of MeFi. So Johnny Wankmag in a world-wide traveller!

If only we had a historical list of Tim BL’s speaking engagements etc to correlate the findings with ..

Comment by Andy Saxton

Looks Like Johnny Wankmag made a trip up north too!
There was (is) a council estate close to where I used to live which had a council “playing field” complete with small woods round 3 edges of it.

The ones that us lads used to find were invariably ripped and a little worn by the elements. I hope it was the elements anyway!

Comment by Steve

I can confirm that Johnny also daytripped to Yorkshire, and at that time (1992 – 1994) developed a fetish for the ladies with larger bristols.

Comment by Olle Jonsson

My Johnny Wankmag experience (JWME?): recently, I went down the stairs to take out the trash, and the bin was topped with around 10 kg of Danish porn magazines. “Kid’s gold”, I thought, and put my trash in the other bin, not to over-soil the goods.

And, too, I was on a car-ride home to Sweden from another unnamed Scandinavian country, and stopped to take a leak. Trudged up an enbankment – could not perform in front of the audience in the car. Then I had my JWME: I hooted back to the car: “Look at this!” Johnny had taken the time to spread out around 10-12 magazines on the ground, so they formed a large patch of… glossy, illustrated paper. At whom was that piece of good-will aimed? A Finnish woman in our company said: “What, did you find stuff like this everywhere in the forests?” All the others: “… Yes.”

Comment by Bruce

I’m staggered that Scandinavia has Wankmags; I thought they were for export only, given that Scandinavians spend all their free time nude in mixed saunas beating each other with twigs.

Comment by Frank Cooper

I can confirm that porn found in bushes is not just a west midlands thing. Being a londoner it was in dense bushes in the park but it is the same thing I am sure. I have always wondered what kind soul left it lying there for us/me to find.

Comment by Lee

Eh… Ha Ha… It also leads to a most unusual matter; A Sexual Jade… Usually, older, unhappily married men get this sort of feeling when they’ve been with their wives a tad too long…

Instead, we get twenty year old virgins that don’t feel like wanking anymore… or maybe that’s just America…

Cheers

Comment by andy

if ever you are convicted for stealing bread you will be happy to know that in carrs bush park, nsw australia, you can still find abandonned used porn in the park.

Comment by Robbie

Having gone to boarding school there was a pretty decent jazz mag market – value was usually based on the relative quality of the magazine as well as the condition. A brand monkey-spanking new copy of Club International would carry far more marketable value than a spunk-spattered Escort or Razzle, for instance. Playboy was always a prized item, but as there was zero flange I was never on the buyers’ list. Some of the mags that entered circulation had been purchased by elder brothers or tall mates, and others had been left behind by various ‘Johnny Wankmags’ from Scotland to Devon.

I still pick up my copy of Club this day – the missus understands that the no-shag nights need to be covered in some way – and in spite of the Internet I still think that there is nothing better than having a glossy mag in your hands!

Comment by Price Albert

You youngsters don’t know yer born! Why,in my day there was no serendipitous finds, back in the 60s the playground porn barons would charge 2 “Passing Clouds” fags just for 1 distressed parade magazine. They were black & white, all the minge airbrushed out, or worse still, concealed behind a flowerpot. Nasty shock for a lad getting hand up knix for the first time! But it never done us any harm… EEEeee…

Comment by Bill Lees

I too, can confirm that Johnny Wankmag operated as far afield as Paisley, in the west of Scotland. When I was growing up there during the 1960s and early 70s, we would also regularly find stashes of discarded second-hand gentleman’s art pamphlets, typically under hedgerows. I still recall the shudder of wondering if the mags’ owner would come back and catch you thumbing his Fiesta, but of course he never did. I now know that it’s a guilt thing. After a while, you feel ashamed of what you’re doing for the 43rd time with that dog-eared old copy of Big ‘Uns Monthly, and you feel the need to ditch your stash. Leaving it in a convenient location for hormone-afflicted youths to recover is a traditional act of kindness, and the urge to do so is acquired sort of organically by a generation of gentlemen as they make their way through life’s choppy waters of sexual turmoil. And it’s green too. Re-cycling ? Yep, we did it.

The interweb has taken away all the joy.

Comment by Yes, it was me

There is a great UK short film just doing the festivals that deals with the ‘finding porn in the woods’ thing. It’s set in the 80′s and is called ‘Love Does Grow on Trees’ – check it out if you can!

Comment by Mark Ford

I can also confirm that Johnny wankmag was active woods around a Scout camp in the Sussex countryside back in the late 80′s, I remember the joy of finding a stash amongst the bracken… happy days.

Funny enough I was in a corner shop last night where they had a large selection of top shelf magazines & I thought “people still buy those? Haven’t they heard of the Internet?!”

Comment by Paul

I can also confirm that this lasted in the West Midlands until well into the 90′s/around the millennium, since I can’t remember my exact age when I had my first ‘find’ (and by that I do mean find)