Asocial Media

I think the internet is an amazing construct.  Admittedly, it might be making me a little lazier and perhaps less mentally nimble, with it’s fairly unlimited applications for information gathering and entertainment.

I mean, cat videos…c’mon.  Hours can easily be lost.

But as entertaining as it is, it’s also incredibly complex.  Well, once you make it interactive.  Humans – Americans in particular, methinks – can ruin just about anything.

Once MySpace imploded, I was slow to follow the ranks of social media users flocking to the Facebook.  My initial reluctance was mostly a factor of whether I was just pulled to it as basically nothing more than a conditioned lemming.  Now, I’m one of the heaviest users that I know.

But I like to consider myself a slightly cognizant user.

Facebook is a component of social media, with almost 2 billion users.  It’s certainly one of the – if not the – most successful examples of social media.  That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily different or better, just the top of mind.  Other social media sites or apps may seek to duplicate the recipe of Facebook’s success; remember ‘ello from last year?

Other social sites or apps seek to specialize.  Dating and hook up sites and apps are probably the next most trafficked sites on social media.  Simpler sites, like Meet Up, draw like-minded individuals together for socializing and you participate just by creating a profile and searching out activities you are interested in.

The reason I call it Asocial Media?  There are rules.  Not necessarily social mores and norms like you find – with frustratingly less frequency – exercised in day to day real life.  Different rules.  Almost tending toward cliquish rules at times.  Even on the more benign sites like Meet Up, you can simply follow or join some groups, while others require members be approved by a moderator.  This usually involves a questionnaire and possibly even a short essay.

How precious.

Then there are the hook up and dating sites, where poor manners are excused or even expected.  One of the more common misbehaviors I encounter on these sites or apps is being ignored when I send someone a message.  I totally get that it’s accepted to ignore someone if they don’t fall into one’s own particular set of likes or interests.

It’s accepted.

Do we have to agree that it’s ok?  If we say nothing and allow it to become the norm, then we have tacitly approved of it and then collectively ratify this new social behavior.  It’s like voting for Trump or watching anything involving a Kardashian.  We’re allowing ourselves to be controlled by the lowest common behavioral denominators our culture has to offer.

I can’t imagine the collective disgust we will feel once we finally wake up and realize what we have allowed to happen.  Not that 100% of the world or even the country uses these sites and apps.  Even Facebook can only claim less than 1/3 of the global population in it’s membership.  So suddenly, it’s a small percent of the population that is propagating these new behaviors and pushing them into day to day life.

When I discuss this particular phenomenon, some people call me dramatic.

Others tell me I’m too hard on people.

Well, second point first, I counter that people aren’t hard enough on themselves.  A supposition that I believe my time on social apps and sites as a heavy user qualifies me to float as a Subject Matter Expert.

Perhaps the world needs more Serial Mom-types.

Now, back to the more pesky first point:  am I just being dramatic?  Let me end your suspense by telling you that I don’t agree with that assessment.

Think back to the last time you did something nice for someone.  My favorite is holding doors for people, as some of you already know.  But that simple courtesy can be extrapolated out to letting someone in front of you in traffic or waiving right of way at a stop sign – something that virtually hogties intersections here in Portland, which is fun to observe.  Did you get a thank you?  Eye contact?  A friendly wave in the rearview mirror?

Probably not.

I still hold doors habitually.  Just this morning I did and was not surprised to have the recipient follow me through like they deserved it.  I’m not familiar with all the world’s royalty and – larger point – I doubt that any of them were actually shopping at my local RiteAid in the Pearl at 11:30 on this cold Sunday morning.  I am familiar with Americans and their overdeveloped sense of entitlement, so I think I glared at an almost-definitely-not-royal-person as they left RiteAid.

I’m guessing that the latter is where this example of asocial behavior behavior falls.  Not that it’s all gloom and doom in my world, when I was walking in to said RiteAid, I held the door for someone approaching from the other direction and I think the shock nearly killed him.

Am I being dramatic?

Nah.  If I would have used the example of men greeting me with a picture of their junk, that would have been dramatic.  Of course, I would only use that example humorously, so the intelligence of anyone assuming otherwise would be judged rather accurately.  Er – harshly.  Still, imagine it:  you’re at a cocktail party and someone walks over to you and flashes you.  This is essentially what is happening on these hook up sites.

And it’s condoned because it’s a hook up site.

Well, newsflash:  these sites didn’t develop as a way for people in urgent need of sex or exhibitionism to meet, that’s why “god” created cars and hookers.  No, these sites started as a virtual social meeting place for people within a specific demographic.  That said members ruined it by elevating the least valuable commodity to the most sought is part of the problem.  When you fill out a profile on one of these sites, you’re asked to select why you are using the site.

Chat.

Friends.

Dating.

NSA.

Relationships.

This is to help you sort for other people looking for similar things from the site.

I love looking at profiles – many people don’t, which is how someone looking to date is greeted by a picture of a penis that is attached to someone looking to get a little right now – because if I am looking for someone to date, I want to know who they think they are.  That six pack is going to go away eventually.  Trust me on that.

Yet many people don’t even bother to fill their profiles out.  Because they are there looking for someone who can give them what they want.  Re-read that last sentence.  I think it’s fairly representative of the selfish behavior or mindset many denizens of dating sites operate under.

Selfish.  Ugh.

And don’t get me wrong, I use these sites.  They.  Are.  Retarded.  From my own experience, I know that relying on them as a resource to get laid when one is horny is an exercise in futility.  Look at all the other choices!  Getting someone to commit to you when someone hotter might return their flirt is damn near impossible.  My grandfather used to use the phrase “Betting on the come” frequently.  I know what it means.  Its convenient application to this scenario and the potential humorous double entedres make me giggle like Anderson Cooper.

So, when someone asks if I’m looking, I tell them what I’m looking for:  dating material.

Not being a dramatic type, I don’t tell them how they can easily sort for people looking for the same immediate gratification that they seek by sorting for it in their search parameters.  I’m all for solving the problems of the world by being as good an example as I can be…which isn’t top tier, by any means.  I am not here, however, to help other people get laid.  Like they’d listen to me anyway, these people just scroll until they find an acceptably attractive person and then send them a picture of their naughties.  It’s an irresistible and unfailing MO.

Fo sho.

Having honest conversations with others may be too passive for some people.  Some folks go on the offensive and write something in their profile along the lines of “If you’re not interested, block me”.  Some might call that proactive.  I think it’s somehow enabling the bad behavior that is blocking.

I’m just going to jump back to Facebook for a second…where I imagine it would be fairly easy to get confirmation that the block feature was intended to limit unwanted behaviors from offensive individuals.  Certainly, I don’t imagine it to be the anticipated norm.  I have blocked three people in – what – eight years?  Yet, here we are on social dating sites encouraging people to block us or each other.  While I think that’s certainly a good strategy for streamlining your search for Mr Right or – ahem – soul mate or even Mr Right Now…remember, we’re Americans.  We can’t commit to a consistent favorite anything.  To presume to block someone based on their hairstyle, preferred sexual role, who they say they’re interested in on their profiles…well, knowing people – gay men in particular – the way I think I do, it seems rather short sighted.

Think of the FOMO principle…how much potential dick are the guys that engage in this block strategy missing out on?

Potentially.

Gays are notoriously flaky.  By the way, it’s snowing.

I said the above strategy was good…call it second-best at best, IMO, I’ll stick with using search functions to find what you want versus blocking what you don’t think you want.  Ah, life with intent.  How do so many miss this concept?

Now, something happened the other day that demonstrated a more strategic use of the block feature.  Although it was still socially horrifying to me.

A guy hit me up on Scruff.  “Looking” was all the message I got.

I wasn’t sure if he was telling me that he was looking or asking me if I was while demonstrating that he did not consider me question-mark-worthy.

The subtleties of gay insult.

Nonetheless, I did recognize him as someone one of my best friends – and a damned fine human – had been excited to go on a recent date with.

The night before.

I politely passed.

He persisted.

I explained.

He actually responded in a mature and reasonable manner, telling me that he totally understood and appreciated that I was loyal to my friends and able to separate their happiness from any potential biological imperatives that I may have.  I remember thinking that the word or idea he was looking for was “ethics”.

Then he blocked me.

Luckily, I had taken a screen shot of the conversation in case I ever needed to defend my dislike for this character.

Foresight.

Initially, his action had really pissed me off.  It’s not a great reward for good behavior, after all.  I considered telling my friend.  Then reconsidered; they had been on one date that one of them had told me was fun.  That’s all.  No one was committed to anyone or anything, this is dating.  Then I realized that he was just employing a strategy to keep from repeating the same awkward misstep again and removing my profile from his view.

It made sense.  Although, really, if you’re going to actually date…maybe give it some time and focus to see if there is chemistry or give it a shot at working out.  Otherwise, you’re probably only dating so you can sleep with someone the first time you meet them and tell yourself you aren’t a whore.  Or get a free meal.

This guy probably falls into that category.  At best, he’s not being intellectually honest with himself about his motives.  At worst, he’s clueless about how to date successfully, which would be sad.  Regardless, I feel comfortable self-righteously retreating to my grumpy old man moral superiority and judging him.  When I was living my whorish existence, I told people I would pick up that I wasn’t going to call them again.

Aaah, the peace of mind that comes with being a conscientious slut.

 

Strangely, this same friend factors into the other recent head-scratching occurrence of me getting myself blocked by someone.  We had been at a birthday party last year and neither of us had really gotten a chance to talk with this one particular attendee.  My friend was on a date – yay for him!  I was stag but was separated from this newcomer by several friends, so he was just out of conversational reach the whole night.  His fruitfly had come down to my end of the table and been super engaging and managed to hang out with us at our end of the table – sitting on a friend’s lap – until it was time to make my exit.  I did say hi to this guy as I stopped and offered my best wishes to the birthday boy and the host on my way out.

In the Facebook comments that followed the event, I saw this guy pop up, hell…let’s give him a name:  The Marathoner.  I can’t recall if we traded comments on the thread or if I just IM’ed him once I’d seen his profile.  It was interesting, he worked for Nike – where I would love to work.  He was from a little town on the gulf coast of Mississippi, Long Beach, that I had visited frequently decades ago because my second significant boyfriend was from there.  He was a runner, as if the name I chose for him wasn’t clue enough, and I had been resisting my doctor’s order to retire from running at that time.

So there was a lot of potential interests for us to pursue or develop a friendship.

Yes, friendship.

He’s 6’6″ and I don’t usually go for taller guys.  Not that that means I block them on Scruff to avoid seeing people I might not be interested in…zing.

Oooh, foreshadowing.

Anyway, I suggested getting in some face time over a beer.  He was busy.

I suggested another get together a short time later.  Oops, busy again.

After getting shot down over bad timing on my third effort, I suggested he propose a day and time and I would do my best to make myself available.  He decided to take umbrage to this statement, I’m not sure why.  Oh, yeah…I might have prefaced it with something like “if you’re actually serious about getting together”, but still.  If he was serious about making new friends, he probably needed to make himself available to potential new friends or be – here it is again – intellectually honest with himself and my favorite self and be direct and tell me he wasn’t interested in making friends in the real world.

But, instead of that, he blocked me.

On Facebook.

In Portland.

As one gay man to another.

How precious.

Portland is such a small city.  I think people forget that.  See also:  The Biscuit.  Certainly, newbies may not even realize it for sometime.

Oooh, more foreshadowing.

Flash forward, oh…about a year, to last week.

My phone tells me that I have a message on the reviled Scruff.

I open up the app and go to messages where I am greeted by – honestly – a rather beautiful penis.  There are worse ways to begin a Sunday morning, but overall, this is not my favorite form of introduction.  I mean, if someone flashes me in the supermarket, I think I would probably react the same way:  not invite them to my house or pursue any form of getting to know them better.  There are social workers for those people.  But, hey, it’s Scruff.  Don’t be so dramatic, Chris.

Sheesh.

Nevertheless, I look at the guy’s profile.  Oh, it’s The Marathoner.

I reply, “Nice penis?” Which resulted in him bestowing “Looking?” upon my inbox.  At least I warranted a question mark from him.

“You don’t remember me, do you?”

“No”

Beat.

Beat.

Beat.

The message thread disappears before my eyes.

Blocked.

Really?!?

I guess he remembered.

That’s Asocial Media for ya, right there.  Why be accountable to society or even your own best interests when you have a block button?  Just get rid of people you aren’t interested in or people who have expectations of you as a fellow member of the human race.

Full disclosure, there is one app that I enjoy quite a lot.  Another that I came to quite late:  Instagram.  I love it, even though I initially resisted because it seemed like a Facebook for pictures.  What I enjoy about it is that you can basically follow anyone you want.  People seem to largely leave their profiles open to follow without approval required.  So it is quite entertaining when I am bored.  Those cases when Facebook lets me down because my friends aren’t posting updates fast enough to keep me from boredom are times I just go to Instagram and scroll.  If I run out of fresh posts, I go to the search screen and just follow interesting people.

Or cute ones.

Because I can.  If someone has a locked profile, no biggie.

Kinda precious, though, wouldn’t you think?  Given the app, wouldn’t you just choose Facebook if you needed control over who has visibility to your feed?  But, Americans can’t commit to one platform for communication, I guess.  It’s FOMO.

I’ve actually made a friend recently that I found on Scruff.  He had listed his Instagram in his profile and I looked at it – it’s a good way to see what people really look like without having to look at their private pics on Scruff because then you’re usually just getting junk pics.  Anyway, he never responded to my greetings on Scruff.  Ah, yes…here to make “friends” on the old Scruff.  But, I liked a couple of his pix on Insta.  Made a comment or two.  He and I were in the same bar one night and struck up a conversation.  He didn’t know who I was, but we were enjoying the conversation and having fun.  I told him that I was glad to talk to him in person and when I explained why, he was a little embarrassed.  But I totally put him at ease about it and we got back to shooting the shit.  He bought me a beer…or was it a cider?

Ok, he’s more of an acquaintance versus friend, but still.  It could have been worse:  he could have blocked me.

And that example is kind of why I don’t generally block people.  Not on Facebook, not on dating apps, not on my phone.  I laughingly say that it’s because I don’t want to make it hard for people to apologize to me.

People that block me are usually lacking some sort of foresight.

Or making an emotional retreat.

Or both.

The Marathoner blocked me.

The Fox’s most recent ex blocked me.

The Broken Poet blocked me.

Both of those last two are most certainly in the midst of what I hope are healing and growth periods.  There may be a time when they look back at their respective relationships with yours truly and feel remorse.  A truly special person would want to make amends.  I’m not going to withhold that potential healing step by denying them access to me via social media or cell phone.

It’s a long shot with each of them, but damn it…sometimes my optimism overrides my grumpy old man-ness.  It has happened before, and I suspect it will happen again.  My door is open for people when they are ready.

Ready to apologize?  Sure.

Ready to be a part of the solution versus part of the problem?  Definitely.

It’s rewarding to see people grow like that and think that I had a part in it, even if it was just backing off and letting them get there on their own.

Asocial Media

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