I’m not sure if the advent of social media and constant communications is a good thing or not. I want to say not. But there’s a concern that my opinion may be influenced by age. And I don’t want to come off as an old fart yearning for how things used to be. Otherwise I’d vote Republican. And generally I believe advances in technology are a good thing. It’s just when marketing and technology meet, their bastard child is often problematic. Unfortunately, despite some amazing technological advances the most famous quote associated with PT Barnum still is true and relevant today. And while Steve Jobs was undoubtedly a visionary, I fear he never lost sight of those words once his technological visions became reality and entered the marketplace.
I’ve watched cellphones grow from being an oddity and a cumbersome piece of equipment to a necessity that few can live without. Cellphones good. Our level of connectivity these days, not so much. And while the latest bells and whistles that come with an iPhone 6+ are nice, if you owned an iPhone 5 and just had to upgrade as soon as the new model was available . . . well, PT must be chuckling his ass off in his grave. And Jobs is right there next to him slapping him a high-five.
I just saw a commercial on TV for one of the latest cellphone models and – you may want to sit down for this one – it has the capability of adding voice to text messages. Wow. Imagine that. A phone that you can use for voice communications. Who would have ever thought? I’m sure the world will be a better place now that you can leave a voice message for someone on their phone instead of just in text.
Thanks to technology, the world is moving on. Sometimes quicker than perhaps it should. Schools in the U.S. are beginning to no longer teach cursive writing. Because no one uses it any longer. Everything is in text. Cursive writing is becoming a lost language. Which isn’t a big loss. But I would like to be able to travel in time and go back to bitch slap my fourth grade teacher who used to brow-beat me over the sloppy hs I composed since there is now no use for that skill anyway. And I wonder how many years it will be before there are experts in cursive writing whose job it will be to translate documents of yore (like from 1990) ‘cuz few others will be capable of reading them. It’s probably a good thing that the Patriot Act dispensed with so many of our rights guaranteed by the Constitution ‘cuz within 25 years no one will be able to read that document anyway.
I’m less ambivalent about e-books. It’s no accident that the Kindle invokes visions of hell’s fires. E-readers are the work of the devil. Books, if you recall, started out as sacred things. And the first printing presses were used to make bibles. I’m not exactly a religious person. As we like to say in California, I’m more spiritual than religious, dude. But when it comes to books and my faith in the printed word I can put a fundamentalist Baptist preacher to shame. Not just because I’m an avid reader. But because books and my true religion – scoring hot guys – go hand in hand.
Back in the day all it took was a singular visit to some new guy in your life’s home to get a good read on him. His choices in reading material told you almost as much as did the contents of his medicine cabinet. And I’m not just talking about whether he had a copy of The Advocate or Honcho on his coffee table. What books he read, and kept, and which were lovingly dog-eared said much about who he was.
If he was in his early 20s or younger and had a copy of The Catcher In The Rye in his bookshelf, his iconoclastic leanings were a good thing. If he was in his mid-30s not so much. And you realized spending time alone with him – and without witnesses – might not be a good idea. Too many self-help books sounded a warning too. Okay, any self-help book was cause for concern. A large collection of graphic novels if not balanced with an equal number of books that didn’t rely on pictures for telling their story was never a good sign either. And if he had a copy of Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, I always knew that the chance of a real romance between us was in the cards.
A lack of books in his living space spoke volumes too. They say opposites attract. Which may be true. But spending time with someone who doesn’t enjoy reading when you do is never gonna result in a long-lasting affair. But those guys made wonderful fuck buddies. Just like guys whose shelves were filled with Harlequin romances gave good blow jobs. Not that you would want to stick around long enough for him to gargle.
Not long ago Buzzfeed had an item called What Books Straight Boys Read Tells About Them. I didn’t read it. But did bookmark it figuring it would be one of the site’s slightly sarcastic and humorous bits. Regardless, they were onto something. Visiting a straight boy’s place who you had the hots for, and checking out his choices in reading materials, gave you the info you needed to know in what your chances were that you could end up in his bed. If he had the complete collection of Ann Rice’s Vampire Dairies it was a good sign. Ann had primed him for some man-on-man love. If his shelves held the collected works of the Twilight saga movies in novel form, not so much. Not because that didn’t mean you wouldn’t score but because it meant he was gayer than you were. But at least it quickly settled the question of whether he would bottom or not.
Now that e-books are all the rage, those clues are no more. And you can’t even keep an eye peeled for his DVD collection of the Twilight movies because nowadays everyone just streams the movies they want to watch. Where once a guy’s video collection containing a few too many James Franco movies told you he was as up for a little man-on-man sex as James appears to be, now you’d have to log onto his Netflix account for that info. And bi-curious guys who’ve been perusing lots of gay porn on the internet tend to erase their browser history. Technology sucks. ‘Cuz it is no longer as easy to determine whether or not he will.
Between e-books and Amazon, local bookstores too are becoming a thing of the past. And that too has cut into my sex life. I don’t know why guys who worked in bookstores were always so easy to pick-up, but I always had more luck at Borders than at gay bars. Sometimes all it took was purchasing Armistead Maupin’s latest and a smile. When I lived in Hawaii I’d pick out the hottest Border’ clerk and ask him if they carried Mahu Surfer. And then watch to see how red his face turned, or how nervous he became. When Borders went bankrupt it wasn’t only the company that lost. And that was the fault of e-books too.
Fortunately, there is still a decent used book store in my town. Even more fortunately there is a cute Asian guy who works there. I’ve been toying with him. Slowly. ‘Cuz he may be the last bookstore employee I ever get to bed. It started when I picked up a copy of one of the books adapted from the 30 Days of Night graphic novels. He got all excited. Not that graphic novels are necessarily a good sign, but science fiction and fantasy buffs are generally at least familiar with and look kindly on androgyny. And in my book the ladyboy lovers of today are the gay boys of tomorrow.
Using that hook, I segued into Andrew Vachss’ Burke novels. He was familiar with the author (he wrote a Batman novel or two) but hadn’t read any of his others. And as I’d hoped, he loved them once he had. There’s a lot of gay in the Burke novels. And dark, crisp, razor-sharp prose. Which made for a natural in suggesting some of J.R. Lansdale’s stuff next. He loved those too. The question is no longer will he, but how much effort will it take to get his ass in the air. I think I’ll bring up those Twilight adaptations next.
I don’t have a problem with all technological advances. I was hooking up with tricks off the internet before most people even knew what it was. I even found a boyfriend on-line. Huh. Come to think about it, that boyfriend was Crazy Ray. So maybe I should have been a bit more distrustful of that technology a bit sooner. But then it’s not the technology that’s the problem. It’s that technology’s application that can be worrisome.
On-line romances are all the rage these days. Even though half the time the person you fall in lust with turns out to really be an 80-year-old loser who still lives with his mother. Assuming it’s not an 80-year-old loser who still lives with his mother that you were looking for. And I’ll bet you half the guys on Farmers Only. com can’t tell the difference between a horse and a cow. The jury is still out on that one. But I’ll let ya know how my profile heading – Want Me To Milk You? – works out.
And okay, so I can no longer peruse the personal library of some guy I just met for a clue as to who he is, or more importantly just how psychotic he may be, but checking his FaceBook page when I get back home to find he’s already changed his status to In A Relationship sounds the same alarm. Plus, for a mere $9.95 I can get his entire arrest record.
Those who use the internet for what it was created for – porn – have no problem. Ditto for those who use their iPhone to stream porn rather than update their FaceBook page. And while I miss the days of hooking up with hotties at a gay bar (or your nearest bookstore), for sheer convenience you can’t beat Grindr. But some pundits claim that aps like Grindr are ruining the fabric of our society. Which sounds like some old fart yearning for how things used to be to me. They’d probably be better off sticking to FaceBook.
They claim that digital hook-up aps desensitizes us to the human experience; that the ease in which you swipe away those whose physical appearance is below your standards, removes the possibility of meeting someone who otherwise would be a positive influence in your life. By which I assume they mean those guys who you used to say had a good personality. But that’s not the point of Grindr and its like. It’s for quickly finding someone bedable, not for finding your future husband. Unless you are into cheaters. And its detractors should just sit quietly in their room listening to all the Adele songs they’ve downloaded while the rest of us enjoy using Grindr for what it is.
Nonetheless, those ugly guys who can’t get laid off Grindr are onto something. The more we use our digital devices for communication, the less communicating we do in the real world. And sometimes it’s just silly. Over the recent holidays, I watched my niece text her mom to find out when dinner would be ready. Moms was in the next room. Once we sat down for the meal I was expecting to get a text from her asking me to pass the salt. But she was too busy texting her friends, each sharing just how dreadful their family holiday dinner was. As though anyone actually enjoys spending the holiday with their biological family.
Worse yet was my experience at the local shopping mall. Being the dutiful son that I am, I took my mom to the mall so she could do her Christmas shopping when anyone with a brain knows you’re supposed to do your holiday shopping on-line. No problemo. It’s the one time of the year that there are a lot of hot guys at the mall. And since most are laden with gifts they’ve just bought, it’s easy to spot and avoid those who have children. So I thought a little Christmas cruising was in order. Wrong. Every person exiting a store, no matter how many packages they were carrying, had his or head buried in their cellphone with thumbs flying. Eye contact was non-existent. How can you cruise some hottie when you can’t even get him to notice there are other humans in his vicinity? And once again technology put a major dampener on my sex life. I’d have been better off staying at home and reading a good book.