Thursday, April 22, 2010
The Allure of the Internet...
One of the best parts of life is when one can admit the truth to himself about himself. Thus, I’ve come to understand my experience with dating and the internet resulted from a bout with depression, and the residual effects of a break up. I quickly realized the time I was spending online only pacified my emotional lows temporarily. It became something I had to do. I curtailed phone calls with friends and family because of my angst to see if I had new mail from a new stranger. It was a band aid to conceal wounds that wouldn’t heal fast enough, for me at least. Online dating or surfing gave me something to do with the extra time I had, now that I was single again. It prevented me from thinking too much about what had happened, why the relationship had fallen apart. Some people rebound at the expense of other people, others “sit” in the pain and process through it. I used the internet to cope. Once I determined that I was simply trying to fill a void I closed the accounts; there were multiple.
With respect to gay people, some use the internet to get acclimated with gay life. Others use it as a mechanism to “approach” because they lack courage to do so in person, or for the anonymity. It’s a world where one can become something he’s not, but everything he wants to be and whoever you imagine him to be. It’s a place where someone can look, sound, anyway he dares to design. The internet can serve as a magnet for those rebounding from a break up, or a resource for the resilient that still believe in love. It’s an unofficial antidote to loneliness, or a tool to just chat to make new friends, possibly more. It’s a device for the depressed as well as a sounding board for those frustrated with it all. As with anything, the internet can be used for good by the well intentioned or for duplicity.
I remember moving to Atlanta twelve years ago at a time when personal computers were truly a luxury in the average home, so, there was the phone/chat hook up line. Today, the chat line is practically obsolete, hence internet (sex) sites. The convenience and ease of the internet sites make me wonder how the phone line was so successful for as long as it was. The phone line allowed callers to listen through a series of voice messages left by other callers. Your imagination was the only visual, which meant the person could only look as good as you could imagine. One would have to be pretty eager to meet off of conversation alone. The major advantage with the internet is the use of pictures. Some even opt to use nude pictures for more opportunities.
Internalized homophobia is almost palpable on many of the profiles posted. They boast of how straight acting or DL (down low) they are and insist that you are too. In many cases, this total stranger has required that you are of a certain race or complexion, height, weight or physique before you consider contacting them. From the semantics emailed back & forth to the thugged out wardrobe (for a well thought out profile), to bold text that reads, ‘no fats, no fems’.
I always felt there was something bizarre about meeting someone from the internet only to run into them down the line, and pretend not to know one another because other people are involved this time & neither of you wants anyone to know you previously met in such a desperate way. It's a sick secret that so many participate in.
It's easy to make poor decisions out of loneliness. The poorest decision I ever made was using the internet. It became a tool I would rely on for self gratification because my career or personal life wasn't on track. I got a high from seeing numerous messages in the inbox from people I didn't know. The presence of those messages validated me because I was functionally depressed, but somewhere in my subconscious I felt empty knowing this wasn't characteristic of the "me" I knew. I often wondered who else on those sites felt the same way. I believe so many get caught in the internet web for reasons very personal to themselves. This behavior isn't limited to gay sites. It happens on mainstream sites, in the heterosexual community as well i.e. Facebook, Match, Black People Meet and Black Planet to name a few.
Once I unlocked my truth and was able to get honest with myself, I walked away without looking back...
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