This fall, around the time Google made global news by announcing it would snap up YouTube for $1.65 billion, you could have made a persuasive case that not all the action on the Internet was in new media. Two geeks were rich beyond their wildest dreams, but a handful of Web surfers couldn't care less: They were too busy clicking on PornTube, a website devoted to a decidedly old-school pastime.

Over the past three months, PornTube has enjoyed a 1,200 percent increase in reach, according to the Web ratings firm Alexa. It doesn't take a Ph.D. from Stanford to guess what goes on there. But what makes PornTube different is the exhaustive sexual variety it allows you to whack off to. Just like that vast swamp one slogs through on YouTube, PornTube has everything from slickly produced Busty Nurses and Asian Liaisons to amateur Bikini Bangers. It offers 28 Hentai titles, 13 "face fuck" choices, and nine streaming-video payment options. You can burn your own DVDs and, of course, download podcasts.

And that's just one site. Let's not kid ourselves. We applaud the likes of Flickr, Digg, and HopStop, but the Net is basically one big porn wasteland. And the Web is just one part of the adult industry's vast, roiling cauldron of kink; these days, there's a virtual universe of erotica to pleasure yourself with. Designer boutiques featuring the latest hypoallergenic love dolls and penis sleeves are popping up in New York's SoHo; Jenna Jameson's retail company now sells Jenna's Vibrating UR3 Vagina and Ass ($181.79; batteries not included); the sex shop Babeland dispenses a numerological substance called Stroke 29, which "takes on the heat and glide of aroused human tissue around the 29th stroke." Even your local CVS can be counted on for a full buffet of mint-flavored Astroglide and new-and-improved self-heating K-Y. For a young man with an ache in his loins and a handful of lube, this profusion of options might feel like a season pass to a sexual amusement park. But the actual effect is quite the opposite.

The sad truth is—whether you're straight, gay, or bi—modern life has taken the fun out of masturbating. In the golden age of the Internet, the universal sport of choking the chicken is about as hot as a testicular exam.

Richard Feinberg, a consumer psychologist who directs Purdue University's Center for Customer-Driven Quality, blames quantity. "There is a consumer phenomenon called information overload. When there are too many choices, sometimes consumers make the wrong decision, or don't make any choice at all," he says. "It's like an electrical outlet—plug in too many appliances and it will overload the circuit."

And if there's a product category that offers consumers too many choices, it's porn. "Now that you have so much pornography," says Joseph Slade, author of Pornography and Sexual Representation and a telecommunications professor at Ohio University, "people are overwhelmed by it."