November is a month of challenges. The first is Movember: a competition to test how big of a moustache one can grow. To those of you that don’t participate, it isn’t as easy as it sounds. Some people have a very difficult time growing lip-toupées. For those that can grow a snot-mop, watching one’s own reflection (d)evolve into what inevitably appears to be a ’70s porn star can be a very difficult transition to make peace with.
The mental image of a porn-stache brings us conveniently to the second and much more difficult challenge: No Nut November (NNNovember).
The NNNovember disciplinary challenge is effectively Lent for your private parts – a self-imposed fast from the act of sexual release. The idea behind NNNovember is to give the mind and body a break from our most carnal desires and practice delaying gratification with the hopes of reorienting one’s energy into more productive tasks and hobbies. Let’s face it though, self-discipline isn’t easy. Whether you are staying on a diet, starting at the gym or quitting smoking crack/Instagram, temptation and distraction lurk around every corner. Habits can be really hard to break, and it’s all thanks to a little neurotransmitter called dopamine.
What is This, Biology Class? WTF is Dopamine?
Dopamine is dope, I mean it has the word ‘dope’ built into its name. But as the old saying goes, “too much of a good thing isn’t good.” You see, dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps us feel pleasure. Every time you do something fun, accomplish a difficult task, or eat a piece of chocolate, your brain releases a bit of dopamine. The problem is, you can condition your brain to release dopamine without having accomplished anything meaningful (with respect to your personal goals), and that can get dangerous. Once that happens, the tasks that you need to accomplish no longer seem worthwhile and become increasingly difficult to complete. So instead of doing your taxes, you endlessly scroll Instagram. Instead of going to the gym, you watch YouTube. Instead of staying on your diet, you eat a brick of cheese because it's a Tuesday and abs are stupid.
Porn is another powerful dopamine hijacker (hehe jacker)—in fact, it's one of the most powerful ones because it relates directly to sex. Sex and reproduction are essentially biology’s ultimate goal (leading to the propagation and survival of all species) so your brain rewards you with dopamine when you engage in it; a modest gift of thanks for keeping your species alive. Herein lies the rub (hehe rub). Your brain can't tell the difference between porn and sex, so every time you give yourself a "self-guided tour" your brain floods itself with dopamine. Each hit raises your tolerance which can lead to an inability to experience the same amount of pleasure doing other, shall we say, more productive tasks.
This can lead to an addiction, and, like all addictions, a dysregulation of dopamine which will lower your drive and affect your ability to stay disciplined. Does this mean porn is bad, evil, naughty, verboten? Nope. The point of controlling your discipline isn’t to judge and shame yourself or others, it's simply to practice being disciplined so you can create good habits and focus on the things that move your life forward. As we alluded to earlier, porn isn’t the only dopamine hijacker online. Social media outlets like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and Reddit are specifically designed to capture your attention by triggering a dopamine response. Games and streaming services are no different. None of them are inherently bad, it's what you choose to do with them that can be.
The Ultimage Goal: Changing Habits
Breaking bad habits can be an extraordinarily difficult undertaking. But never fear, Windscribe is here to help. We aren’t just a VPN company that protects your identity, we also have tools that can help you manage your online habits. We created R.O.B.E.R.T. to help you block certain categories of websites as well as malware, ads and trackers. R.O.B.E.R.T. acts as your personal online bouncer protecting you from the content you don't want to access. When enabled, R.O.B.E.R.T. can effectively remove your access to social media, fake news, porn, and tons of other forms of distracting content to help you stay focused on your personal goals.
Great, How do I Use This R.O.B.E.R.T. You Speak Of?
R.O.B.E.R.T. is available to all of our users, at least in part. Free users have access to some of the blocklists (like malware, ads & trackers), while our PRO and Custom Unlimited Plan users have access to all blocklists. However, for the month of NNNovember, we're making all of our blocklists available to free Windscribe users a well! So how do you use R.O.B.E.R.T.? Follow along below:
Accessing R.O.B.E.R.T. From Your Browser:
Go to our website and log in. In the My Account section, select R.O.B.E.R.T. on the top tab (or from the dropdown on your mobile browser) and you will see a list of categories that can be blocked or unblocked. Toggle the blocklists you wish to use. You will then be prompted with a message asking if you want to apply the changes across your Windscribe-connected devices. Click ‘Yes’ and Windscribe will take care of the rest!
Accessing R.O.B.E.R.T. From the Desktop App:
Finding R.O.B.E.R.T. from the desktop app is even easier since you don’t have to waste precious calories typing. First, open Windscribe on your computer. Click the three vertical lines next to the Windscribe logo on the top left, and it will take you to the preferences panel. Then click the icon that looks like a person, and then “Edit Account Details”. It will take you straight to the account settings on the website where you can select R.O.B.E.R.T. and block the lists that you want to block.
Accessing R.O.B.E.R.T. From the Mobile App:
If you're on the go or feeling too lazy to leave your bed to get your laptop, you can access R.O.B.E.R.T. directly from the Windscribe mobile app. Open Windscribe on your iPhone or Android and tap the menu button (icon with three horizontal lines) on the top left of the screen to open Preferences. Select the Account section, and then Edit Account. This will open the account page in your phone’s browser. Choose R.O.B.E.R.T. from the drop-down and you will see all of the blocklists you can toggle.
Will This Will Work?
R.O.B.E.R.T. will definitely work. As for NNNovember, you'll have to give it a try for yourself. Some pretty smart neuroscientists concluded that managing your dopamine can be highly beneficial, so the science is there. Regardless, should you choose to go on this journey of self-discipline, Windscribe has your back.