Do We Really Have Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself?

Tom Hymes
As is my wont, I wait until late in the publishing cycle to write my monthly columns. But I also have tended to cast my brain into the future, by at least half a year, when planning themes, features or seminars for the various publications and events I have produced.

I like to think this dual assessment has worked for me over the years, especially with the columns, but recent events have made the task far more difficult, to say the least.

Since 1999, when I first started writing about the adult online industry, my chief function has been to accurately and responsibly reflect and predict the state of the business, with the goal of helping individual companies and the industry as a whole understand where it is and where it is going. The overarching goal of maintaining a long view that informs short-term objectives is certainly not discarded when writing company profiles or even coverage of events and parties. As an industry, everything we do fits into a larger scheme and exists within a framework that encompasses both the past and the future. I believe that most of the businesspeople in this industry strive to maintain a similar balance, for the simple reason that it is foolhardy to run a business without attempting to correct one's mistakes or plan for the future.

I likewise believe that I am not alone at the moment in not being able to see clearly into next year, much less feel confident about what to expect. This is an extremely unsettling sensation for me and I am sure anyone else who feels similarly. While predicting the future is always a gamble, human beings simply cannot conduct the business of their lives without making constant educated guesses, conscious or not, about what is to come. Didn't we learn in grade school that even the act of walking is a neurological act of faith that our legs will move in concert to prevent a fall? We are, in fact, programmed to not only assume that B follows A but count on it in an emergency, and would each simply come to a dead stop without such assurances.

In a crisis of faith and trust, such as the one we are experiencing now, innate defense mechanisms leap to the fore, and appropriately so, but they only have their opening precisely because of the paralysis and fear that comes with feeling uncertain about the future. As we know, this is why Franklin D. Roosevelt uttered his famous words in his first inaugural address in 1933, during the depths of the depression.

Now people speak about another depression, and I know no one within the industry who feels that online porn — or any porn — is going to escape unscathed this time as it did during the dot-com bust. Everything is different now. Even without a global recession, the business was changing in fundamental ways.

But as frenzied as the economic Sturm und Drang may become, we simply must take it as a given that the profoundly wise words of our adored president who, along with Lincoln, presided over our most challenging periods, maintains their power to move and shape us.

Since I believe that our industry, like so many others, actually is our country and our world, as well as our future, I think we are mandated then to answer the question in the affirmative; in fact, required, obligated and duty-bound to show by our behavior as well as our words that fear will be shown the door.