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Irish college student blows €400 on phone porno binge

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Slightly unusual news from Ireland today.


A college student at University College Cork narrowly avoided having to pay a phone company over €1,600 ($2,200) for downloading over 80 gigabytes worth of online pornography in the space of just three weeks.

The unfortunate student did have to cough up €400 ($574), but was able to rely on the good graces of the popular phone network, Meteor, to avoid having to pay the rest.

A number of Irish websites including TheJournal.ie and technology focused newswire Silicon Republic have already carried the story, while several Irish print publications are reported to be contemplating running it in tomorrow's editions pending confirmation of the account from Meteor.

The massive data bill happened after the lascivious student thought that his bill-pay plan included unlimited internet, and went to town in major-league style on what he believed to be the unlimited bandwith that he mistakenly thought came with his plan.
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The student also claimed that his accommodation was without internet for three weeks, prompting him to resort to alternative means of getting his fix of streaming online video, which is otherwise known among male college students in Ireland as online porno.

The story, for all its hilarity, is far from beyond belief.

I was astounded when checking my own bill-pay statement last week to find that my own phone network (the international conglomerate 3) had failed to add my own unlimited internet add-on to my package for over four months (unsurprisingly no apology was forthcoming).

Fortunately, I hadn't been downloading feature-length adult films several times a day as this individual had, but if I had, or engaged in other forms of excessive downloading , I could well have been landed with a similarly gigantic phone bill.

I also racked up over €200 ($287) worth of data charges in the space of just two weeks while on a 10 day trip to Florida last year, without hardly even using the internet (the charges, presumably, accumulated almost entirely from sending and receiving email), which also goes to show how easy it is to unintentionally accumulate massive data bills.

It's also more than possible that the sales assistant who reportedly misinformed this customer that he had unlimited internet on his plan really did so. High-street phonestore workers can be uninformed on the very plans they're selling at the best of times, and my own helper in the 3 store wasn't even aware that a driving licence was considered good enough proof of ID until I had to download a page from their staff manual (six months later, some staff documentation is still freely available online) to show him so!

All in all the only really astounding thing about this funny story is the amount and frequency of porn which this particular user downloaded over just three weeks, and why he couldn't simply do without it until he got his regular internet back!

Irish national daily the Irish Examiner is running a multi-part feature on the danger of pornography use among young people, particularly students, at the end of next week, and this case may lend support for the idea that such an exploration is both timely and necessary.

In an age when free pornography is available at the literal touch of a button, and most young people have unlimited access to the internet, abuse, even at this ridiculous end of the scale demonstrated here, is inevitable, and it shouldn't be seen as throwing us back to the Dark Ages to question whether such overuse could possibly prove detrimental to a person's mental and physical health.

Studies have already been done to prove that internet pornography can throw a viewer's dopamine levels off balance, which lends scientific credence to many users' reports that they feel somehow 'not right' after time spent abusing online porn.

I think that the criticism could be extended to over the top computer usage in general, though.

The constant bombardment of information from Twitter, Facebook, and other websites can get extremely tiring after a while, and now that smartphones allow people the 'luxury' of staying connected to the net while on the go, it's become practically impossible for some people to get away from it.

I deleted my own Facebook's 'news feed' last week after getting tired of reading friends' exaggerated accounts of fantastic nights out (if you're having such a good night, why bother Facebook or Tweeting it?), and limit Twitter usage to the bare minimum necessary to keep in touch with a few other reluctant Tweets; most other use is automated.

The whole essence of the new internet (the 'web 2.0'), which I recently saw summarized in the statement that 'everybody cares what I ate for lunch today', can become as much a daily grind as work after a while.

Maybe it's time we all took a moment to disconnect a little, the author included -- before we also end up with a $2,000 data bill!

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