Emotional masturbation is not as bad or as sexually provocative as it sounds. It’s the act of resorting to external stimulation of sadness as an outlet of whatever internal disturbances one may have. Think of it as lubricant (no, not that kind of lubricant) for one’s tear ducts.
To some, it may appear as borderline masochism. I mean, one’s already probably as sad as one could get. Why make it worse by letting one be carried away by the nasty current brought about by the depressing atmosphere of say, Artificial Intelligence or Mystic River? Why not watch a candy colored movie with glittery ponies puking rainbows instead?
Though I see where that opinion’s coming from, I’d rather believe that emotional masturbation is a form of stress relief. There are times when unsolved problems and incoming predicaments pile up to the point that even one’s body is confused whether or not to display this negative emotion of melancholy. Those are the hard times when thinking alone of the next step is as stressful as executing it. A little way of escape may help, even if it’s only temporary.
Think of it as a water reservoir during a stormy season. Once it reaches the critical level, engineers signal for the release of a portion of the water contained within the dam; else the retaining walls and other structural members will submit into a devastating failure.
If emotional masturbation is a key to salvation, then go ahead. Indulge, but don’t be engulfed by it.