I have an addiction. A dirty, tedious little addiction to online/mobile profile sites. Currently I check 3 of them (really only care about 2) and spend way too much time browsing, flirting, and perving out, and far too little time actually connecting with the men. I know I’m not alone. We live in a society of hook up apps and sites that enthrall millions of users who turn to smart phones and laptops instead of bars and public spaces for personal engagement. One of the great cries of the gays–be they Leather or other–is “internet killed the community!” In small towns across America, local gay bars are closing due to the fact men now only need to log on to a site to find their dalliances. And the Leather folk have been saying for years that with the expansion of the internet comes the dwindling of the community.
But I’m getting a bit off topic here. My point is I have developed a habit of compulsively checking my profiles for messages whenever there’s a free minute…or when I wake up at 6:26am. The alarm goes off, I grope to shut it off, then check to see who groped/woofed/cruised me. This morning I felt like a cigarette addict fumbling for the first inhale to get the fix for the start of the day. It’s not cool. I waste so much time and get so hungry looking at the profiles and end up going through a repeating pattern of assessment, being assessed, and ultimately NOT hooking up (that whole follow through thing gay men are so good at).
After my conversations with Chad States about Cruising (last week’s post) I got the idea to UNPLUG from these time-suck tools and actually try to engage with men in the REAL WORLD. Going up to a man in a bar and saying hello gives you 10times the information you glean from a Scruff profile in only a fraction of the time. You can instantly know if the guy looks/feels/smells right without the need to decipher personal descriptions and little photos.
Don’t get me wrong, I have made substantial connections with men via online profiles over the years. Men who have become friends, boyfriends, or even just impactful encounters…the online tools can be good to you. But recently I feel like there’s a great imbalance between the amount of time/energy spent using the tools and the quality/value of human connection I get out of them.
So today, after I publish this post, I will be taking a break from my sites and apps. I will set myself free from the compulsion to check…and re-check…and check again…and woof…and message, and refresh, etc etc etc. I will stop looking down at my phone and start looking around on the street for potential encounters. I do this because I feel it will be a healthy change AND to experience what my forefathers (fore-queens?) did before the online world took over. I know I’ll want to log in very badly–especially at first–but I hope in time I can get some freedom from this addiction and learn the value of face-to-face meetings. I’m setting my goal for ONE WEEK at first and will see how it goes (I gotta be realistic about this). Wish me luck!