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Monday, July 4, 2011

More Life Online

Yes, I have been assimilated by the Apple Borg, and yes, I love my iPhone, but it does make me stop and think. Most gay men who have an iPhone or Android will know at least one of these icons: Scruff, Grindr and Recon. And there are lots more, Manhunt, Gaydar, Adam4Adam to name just a few.

All designed so we can get a root, or maybe love, not just in the privacy of our own home while online, but when we're out and about through the apps on our phone.

New technology = new ways to  hook up. Is this what happend when they invented paper and ink?

It is kind of weird to have my phone chirp at me from my pocket while I'm walking to work and find someone in Texas thinks I'm hot and will be out here in 3 months and do I wanna hook up? Weird, but cool in a strange sort of way. Hey, it's flattering even if it will probably never happen. (He was HOT btw).

I love the way I can monitor the different time-zones on scruff, as the screen fills up with people from different parts of the globe. You can see the changes in time as the population on the screen alters over the day - Asia, Europe, the Americas, back to our part of the world.

And there are the guys you see on different sites, presenting themselves slightly differently. Scruff is a bit more bearish, grindr a bit more gym-bunny, but I often see the same guys on lots of sites. A mate joked with me the other day that we chat on five different platforms now. Then he told me I hadn't logged into scruff for a while. Sometimes the phone can go crazy with messages coming - so good for the ego - some days no-one woofs or says I'm hot - sad face.

I have a friend I've never met, we only chat on recon, and we've been talking for nearly 2 years now I guess. He just had a (non-HIV related) health scare, and we've been talking about that; I really like him, and was quite concerned for him, so it's been a real relief to hear he's ok - and that's kind of strange when you sit back and think about it. Here is this guy I've never physically met, contacted through a gay fetish site, and we now have a friendship that involves a lot more than anything sexual. He's an academic too, so we often talk about ideas as well. It's a bizarre way to know someone. But I'm glad I know him.

Of course, there is the joke of being in a gay bar and watching half the men sit there, beer in one hand, phone in the other, busily looking at who is hot on whatever site they're using and ignoring the living breathing men around them. Sometimes it seems like nearly the whole bar is doing it. And you have to wonder just why we can't get off the phone and talk to a man who is sitting close by. It connects us and disconnects us at the same time.

It is very similar to online hook-ups, but it feels even more pared back, leaner. Messages tend to be shorter, more to the point, because it's harder to write on those keyboards I guess. One mate said the question he gets most often on his phone is "How big's your cock?"

I know some guys have met the love of their lives through online dating/hookup sites - I haven't heard of it happening via these phone apps yet, but it's bound to have happened by now, and nothing wrong with that - how you meet is not important.

How much is real and how much is fantasy, or a carefully shopped photo? A mate was talking about someone he'd just met in real life the other day and said "He really has to stop using that photo on scruff, it must be 10 years old at least!". You never can be sure just how it's going to be until you meet in the flesh, and then, well, sometimes it just doesn't work. And sometimes it is a blast.

The thing is, and I guess it's to do with NZ's small gay male population, that I tend to use these apps for socialising more than anything. I can't think of the last time I actually picked a guy up with one.

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