Reddit’s anti-masturbation community is having a hard time with Celebgate

Let's hope it doesn't come to blows.


Aaron Sankin

Internet Culture

Published Sep 1, 2014   Updated Jan 27, 2021, 11:00 pm CST

There is a place on Reddit where people go to not masturbate. Well, technically, there are a lot of places on Reddit where users (probably) don’t go seeking masturbation fodder, but, there’s one community, r/nofap, that functions like a support group for people who are trying to quit masturbating cold jerky turkey.

As with anything that can be addictive, avoiding giving in to temptation is easier on some days than it is on others. For the denizens of r/nofap, the day after a trove of nude pictures of female celebrities were leaked online was not one of those easy days.

On Sunday, a hacker allegedly acquired shots of such celebrities as Jennifer Lawrence and Lea Michele by compromising Apple’s cloud photo storage service, iCloud. By Monday morning, the front page of r/nofap was filled with people basically treating the release of the nudes as the equivalent of a recovering alcoholic accidentally walking into a bar giving out free booze on St. Patrick’s Day:

r/nofap post-celebgate

Some users posted messages offering moral support and tips for avoiding temptation:

r/nofap gives moral support post-celebgate

Others slammed the weak-willed among them, insisting that staying masturbation-free was still easily doable:

r/nofap freaks out post-celebgate

Still others put in the context of seminal Japanese anime Dragonball Z because of course they did:

r/nofap puts nofapping post-celebgate in terms every Redditor can understand

Users compared navigating the Internet when chatter about the pictures has seemingly derailed all other conversations to a playing a game of Minesweeper and extolled the advantages of being a non-self-pleasuring gay man because all of the photos leaked were of female celebrities.

The entire thing was made even more difficult by trolling users who have repeatedly submitted pornographic images to the subreddit after a story about the difficulties its users were having was posted to a separate Reddit community, r/TheFappening, which has become the site’s central repository for the stolen images.

r/nofap under attack

Ironically, the birthplace of r/nofap was 4chan, the same anarchic message board where the nude pictures first appeared online. In 2009, 4chan, along with a handful of other online message boards, saw some of its users participating in a month-long challenge to see if they could go a 30 days without pleasuring themselves.

The concept soon spread to Reddit, where the r/nofap community was born.

As the wiki post about the subreddit explains:

You set your own goals. We’re just here as a supporting service to try and help you along. We’re not here to say that masturbation is unhealthy or evil. We would never agree to a sweeping statement like that. In fact, you’re bound to find a range of opinion here. What unites the NoFap community is simply a desire to stop masturbating and utilizing pornography—maybe for a day, maybe for a month or longer—and our determination to help one another achieve our goals.

“NoFap was originally a place for a small group of people to abstain from only masturbation for a period of time through weekly and monthly challenges,” r/nofap creator Alexander Rhodes told the Kernel a few years later. ?This ‘ultimate challenge’ was performed as a test of willpower or a motivation tool, stemming off of this thread in r/GetMotivated. Soon after, we began to realize the tremendous benefits we were experiencing and wanted to continue experimenting more frequently and for longer periods of time—and the NoFap 90 day challenge was born.”

When it comes to the recent release of nudes, the overall message from the community is to stay strong. If ?fapstonauts,’ as they affectionately call themselves, can make it through this week without giving in to the temptation of something they’ve put your mind to avoiding, they should give themselves a hand.

Actually, on second though, maybe they shouldn’t.

Photo by R. Jason Brunson/Wikimedia Commons (public domain)

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*First Published: Sep 1, 2014, 2:08 pm CDT