Earlier this year, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) provided Internet Service Providers (ISPs) a list of 400,000 pornographic websites that needed to be blocked from viewership in Pakistan. The ISPs complained about this costly burden and the Supreme Court gave a righteous nod of assent, but all I could think about was the poor soul tasked to compile the list of 400,000 websites.

Imagine steeping into his shoes, and going to his job, living his life. I did, and to tell you the truth folk’s, I saw the Abyss.

In a shambling, grey nondescript room sits an equally nondescript man. Interchangeable with a thousand other ‘government servants’; from their meticulous mustaches to the uncontroversial dress shirts, they are all a bad copy of each other. The room is all but silent; the creaking of an ancient fan is interrupted by a single maddening sound… Click click click. Our man lives from cigarette breaks to cigarette breaks, one meal to the next. Day in day out, you will find him sitting hunched over an archaic computer. In the dull wash of the boxy monitor you see his eyes, moving but expressionless, eyelids at half mast – lifeless.

Yet, it is not the tedium that killed them – this picture could be one of any other office building – but the inconceivable absurdity of his task. Like asking a man to drain the ocean using a leaky bucket, he has been charged with the impossible – stopping users from having access to online pornography.

Every day he scours the internet for iterations and synonyms of the words “sex, porn, tube etc”, and everyday he finds thousands of websites plying pornography. Yet for every single one he bans, he ignores a million more. Time’s up, got to go home. Rest. See the wife and the kids. Return tomorrow and find that the field has shifted. The words have changed the slang has evolved, and he will always be the last to know. The frantic pace of technology is leaving him behind, each site is now mirrored on servers across the world, making them nigh impossible to block. Websites are now being procedurally generated by algorithms instead of humans, making their ceaseless pace temporally infinite. The exchange has moved onto other private forums like Snapchat and Whatsapp; magical places that has heard about but never understood. And while he was wrestling with this dilemma, a thousand new websites pop up, stuffed to the brim with the collective smut of human civilisation – all produced fresh last night, when he was sleeping soundly in his bed.

At this moment he reminds me of tragic Sisyphus; as he reaches the top of the hill and watches the stone slip from his grasp and roll thundering back down.

Sisyphus, the mythological Greek trickster who sought to chain Hades – god of the underworld – so that he could gift the world with immortality, was punished by the gods for his passions on earth. He was made to push a heavy boulder up a steep hill, only for it to roll back down when he neared the top – and was made to repeat this for an eternity. Never going anywhere, never achieving anything.

What interests me is not the backbreaking climb measured only in sky less space and time without depth, but the pause at the top, and the descent that follows. That conscious descent into struggle and suffering. Why does he continue to do it, why doesn’t he give up?

I imagine we can ask a similar question from our tortured friend in the PTA; why do this futile exercise that will never be even close to complete? I imagine it must be frustrating, not only because he lives and breathes pornography, but is also not allowed to enjoy it himself- a feeling of impotence. And if that wasn’t cruel enough; an average 13 year old of this generation can bypass PTA’s restrictions in a matter of seconds. All those 400,000 names, accessible in the click of a button – his life’s work, undone by a smirking hormone-fuelled teenager.

Unlike Sisyphus however, our nondescript man has not been cursed by the gods, he has a choice. It is considered graceful to know when you are defeated and accept your fate. The battle was lost before it began, it is time to give up, divert resources to more exigent and practical problems, invest in an AC and give our nondescript government servant a holiday.

He must not despair; technology may have struck the final blow but human nature has won the war. Even without pornography, humans will continue to crave and demand sex, they always have. In keeping with the Roman motif; when Pompeii – the ancient Roman town near Naples buried in volcanic ash – was unearthed by archeologists in 1748, on the side of the basilica were these sage words “The one who buggers a fire burns his penis”. Underneath was a lewd yet colourful drawing.

Compare this to the graffiti found in your average bathroom stalls; how much have we changed, and more crucially, how much can we change?

Where will this moral crusade stop? Even if we ban all pornographic content from Pakistan, bearded men will continue to eyeball Burka-clad women, dirty jokes will continue to be told and the “traditional Pakistani man” will continue to drool over item numbers.

Even if the PTA – through some righteous magic – manages to curb all physical depictions of sex or sexuality from the world, what can it do about my thoughts?

Right now, as I am writing this article, I am imagining a sensual escapade in the Bahamans with not one but two lovely young ladies. Try and block that PTA.