In therapy this week, I talked about how the internet has been both my friend and enemy. How at times it is an outlet for my feelings and emotions, and other times it doesn’t give me what I need. For as long as I can remember I have used the internet for meeting people. When I got my first computer at the age of 19 in 1995, I can remember the AOL chat rooms. I also can remember easily being able to start up platonic conversations with people. Through those chat rooms I even met a really a good friend.
Now days I struggle with having meaningful interactions with people online. I am not sure if it is because I am older or a bit jaded, or if things really have changed? Maybe it is a little of all three. On various apps like Growlr, Scruff, Grindr, etc I send out friendly platonic message and rarely do I ever get a response back. It is easy to allow it to make you feel less. I still catch myself taking it personal.
Even on Growlr, which is a site for bears, I struggle with getting responses. I have noticed that muscle bears are the most popular, and the ones the site usually features on their facebook page. I guess I have always saw bears as being more on the husky side but with the popularity increase of the community things have changed. Plus you have the whole masculinity label, in which I don’t adhere to. Seeing things like masculine only, no one overweight, no fems or flammers is a common occurrence. I have always struggled with the whole concept of masculinity. It all depends on whose definition of masculinity you go by. I have no issue with masculinity but what I do have an issue with anti-femininity. Some see these two concepts as a gender and I don’t think that is all that healthy. Personally I have both masculine and feminine traits, and I am proud of all of them.
The problem with labels is that many times you don’t fall into that category, you feel left out or less. I have found myself questioning what parts of myself do I include on Growlr and Scruff. Finally I just said fuck with it, you like me for me or not at all but that has taken years and I still fall into that trap.
I find that so many of these sites are centered around sex, especially on websites like Adam4Adam, or even Bear411. These sites have numerous adds for porn with x rated pictures plastered all over the page. I understand sites like A4A that are free to members, have to make money but I still am very turned off by those sites. There are some who argue that websites lie A4A are for hooking up and maybe that is so, but I know there are others on there who are looking for more than just sex.
Thankfully on apps for the iPhone and Android x-rated pictures are not allowed. Though they feel just like a meat market as well. They just have their meat behind the case and not in plain sight.
As much as I struggle with this all, I can see how our community has become this. Socially we aren’t taught to accept ourselves for who we are. Even in the culture and media outside of the LGBT community there is a feminine stigma. Just look how some republicans view Women still to this day. We are not taught to embrace love, so in return we do the same to each other.
I can relate to whole hooking up world. There was a time that I was caught up into it. I didn’t feel like I could get the real connection and the one I yearned for… So I tried to get it anyway I could. So I started looking for sex online. I thought something was better than nothing. I had convinced myself that I couldn’t ever find the real thing, nor did I deserve it. In the end, it only just reinforced my insecurities and brought up some very deep issues of my past. Not only was it making me feel worse, I wasn’t getting what I really needed.
I guess what it boils down to is I don’t feel like I fit in. I am not masculine (and for some too big) enough for Scruff or Growlr. I am too old and big for Grindr. Plus on top of this I live in a very rural town, and even the bigger city near me has limited options.
It is obvious I need to venture out into the big world and that scares me, which is a separate topic in itself.
My question is why aren’t there alternatives online. I can’t be the only gay man looking for friendship??? Just take a look at the personal section on Craigslist and you will easily feel disheartened. Go to the strictly platonic section and it is a ghost town. The romance section is even worse. Which reminds me of one of my favorite songs by Peggy Lee called “Is That All There Is.”
I am not saying that you can’t make friends on the internet or have decent conversations, they are just appear to be more difficult. What I do find it impossible with the few people I do talk to locally is getting them to want to meet up. It is not like I am saying hey lets go hook up, I usually just say would you like to go out to a movie or dinner… Maybe they are just being polite in talking to me, maybe they think I am looking for more than friends? I am not sure but it is frustrating.
I guess I am realizing I have to turn somewhere else for making in person connections. I am not confident it will be at a bar either. I have always heard doing activities that you enjoy is the best way to meet people. I just have to realize what that is and find activities like that. Living in a small community certainly has it’s challenges but I know that there has to be some kind hearted people out there who care about the world around them.
Is anyone else struggling with the issues and finding alternatives to meet people? I wish there was a friend app.
Does anyone else have thoughts and comments to add? I would love to hear them.