May 22, 2011

[Technicolor Musings] My Short Quasi-History of Meet-ups and EBs

So I recently signed up for the LGBT forum PinoyG4M, which is sort of where the local forum folks from the new evolved (?) gay dating site Guys4Men sort of migrated to. The site is an independent effort by folks who were active over on the original G4M (as far as I understand the history - feel free to correct me guys) but has managed to survive while G4M turned into PlanetRomeo. Ah, the shadows of my gay dating site past.

Gay Forum Meme

Anyway, the forum has turned out to be fairly fun at this point, although naturally one can't help but feel like the red-headed new kid at school when you join a fairly established web community. There's all the in-jokes and people knowing who everyone else is beyond their avatars and usernames, but it's all good stuff. But the group is pretty nice and there's a bit of a gathering planned for this weekend and as of the time of the drafting of this post, I'm not quite sure if I'm going (or in this case "have gone", temporally speaking).

And that just got me thinking about my long yet highly uneventful history of online forums and related encounters and very, very little in-person meetings. And since I needed a blog entry for today, I ended up with this instead. Pardon the faux-randomness.

For a gay geek like myself, there's an almost instinctive sense of security in resorting to online interactions. It's probably why I resorted to online locales such as IRC and web forums as my initial testing grounds for my budding homosexuality at the time. The pseudo-anonymity offered by the net is a powerful lure to anyone who's trying to figure out why exactly he's started to find Ryan Reynolds as a bit more interesting than he should be while watching Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place. Go figure.

In my dangerous, reckless phase I was determined to meet other gay people who were outside of my traditional social circles - part of my foolish attempts to stay in the closet while also exploring my sexuality. But at the same time, the notion of actually meeting all these people that I'd chat and exchange emails with was a tad terrifying. My paltry social skills weren't at all up to that sort of a challenge.

Over the years I realized that I was really bad with in-person meetings. I was typically very awkward and at times disappointed when I'd meet up with people that I had only been chatting with for a few hours or whatever. Stupid, I know, but at least I'm owning up to that part of my youth (as if I'm that old now). Anyway, it's a weird trait of mine (and probably of many other geeks) and thus when things left IRC and evolved to the gay dating (read: hook-up) sites, I continued to try my luck and, well, nothing really.

That's the thing - I've always been pretty decent at making online contacts, it seems. The kinds of people that when I catch them online we can chat a bit and swap stories but that's about it. I very rarely found the nerve to meet up with people in person. And I really had no luck on the hook-up scene, maybe because I didn't like talking sleaze from the get-go. Call me a traditionalist or a romantic or maybe just someone who's not very adventurous, but my luck with online sites has been more on the friends side than the hot and heavy encounter side. Go figure.

I think this has something to do with what makes me comfortable to be able to sleep with someone. I've found that I need some sort of intellectual linkage to the person before the subject of sex has an even remote chance of coming up. Sure we can flirt online and that sort of jazz but when it's time to get off the pot, I'm not immediately sold. I'm not saying this is right or wrong - it's just how I deal with things. I suppose it's helped me make some great friends over the years, and at the same time it's kept me out of trouble, relationship-wise and in other ways.

But just meeting up with people doesn't (and shouldn't) mean needing to sleep with them of course. Plus there's definitely value to meeting people for real - something about the real world interaction making the online friendship more significant with some imaginary stamp of it now becoming official. Despite having this philosophy in terms of my online friends, I rarely arrange meet-ups myself. Heck, I rarely attend the local blogosphere events anymore.

It's a bad habit that I want to break out of. There are a lot of great people that I get to interact with online almost every day, especially now with the likes of Twitter, Facebook and what have you. And yet I still make the effort - perhaps out of some intangible (and clearly irrational) fear? As much as recognize that I'm pretty much an introvert in terms of my core personality, it doesn't mean I have to let that rule my social interactions, right?

Think about it - how many people do you already treat as friends online have you never met up with in person? Provided they live within a reasonable distance, do you feel comfortable meeting them in the real world? In your experience, has this changed your friendship dynamic for better or for worse? I'd definitely like to know your thoughts on the matter.

And hopefully I decided to make the effort to venture out and meet the PinoyG4M folks - and if I did, well, that'll be another entry entirely.
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