Online dating and online “dating” have been around since the advent of the Internet, and I jumped on that bandwagon pretty early. Nowadays, we don’t even have to get on the computer to make use of these dating and hook up options: with apps like Blendr and Grindr, you can meet new people from the palm of your hand rather than just meeting your dick in the palm of your hand.
These and other apps facilitate the process of meeting new people, but I’ve also heard friends and acquaintances opine that they are essentially ruining our ability to see people as people. I’m not sure I agree.
I’ve been chatting with men and women on the Internet since back in the early 1990s when I was 14 years old. I’d log on and chat with them, and often enough I would end up hooking up with them. Since then I’ve met people on various sites and in numerous countries. In some cases, I just had really good sex with them. In other cases I had shittastic sex. On still other occasions I developed lasting friendships, and sometimes we never even met, we just maintained friendly chatting relationships, like a sort of pen pal.
Admittedly, the gay sites tend to be easier places to hook up; the straight sites, on the other hand, tend to force the guy to engage in at least a rudimentary conversation before meeting up for (probably dinner, drinks and then (finally)) sex.
But that’s not to say that’s always how it is.
Shortly after I discovered Grindr and Blendr I went to Turkey for a few days of relaxation. I was taking the trip by myself because I needed the down time, so I figured it would be a good chance to try out these two new apps.
For those who aren’t familiar with them, here’s how the two apps work: you set up a profile with a single picture. Then, you can browse through all the users in your area. And you really don’t have very many other search options because these apps were designed to connect you with people who are nearby. So you get rows of four pictures, with people sorted by their proximity to you: the closer their picture is to the top, the closer they are to you. Users can even allow you to see just how far away they are, or send you additional pictures or a Google map with their exact location.
This is a fucking awesome feature for people who just want to hook up. Simply pick out someone who you find attractive and who is close to you, and the action can get started posthaste. I mean really, why hook up with someone who is 2 km away when someone else is just 200m away? Less time for travel and more time for sex. Unless of course the former is hotter, and they come to me…
But there is a difference between the two apps. The gay app, Grindr, lets you write a little statement if you want, but apart from your stats, there really isn’t much in the way of a profile. However, the straight app, Blendr, lets you fill in your interests and you can even sort people by interests. Now isn’t that just cute…
Clearly, the gay app is geared more toward hook ups, while the straight one is geared toward dating. Which is why the gay one is more successful. If I’m going to date someone, then who cares how close they live? We’d be meeting up at a restaurant or bar anyway.
With that in mind, I checked into my hotel in Antalya and logged into the apps. After refreshing my location, I started browsing to see who was around, and then put my iPhone to the side, pulled out my book, and started to read. An hour later I heard my phone beep, notifying me that someone had sent me a message: the first bite on the hook. And what a fish it was! It states in my profile on Blendr that I’m bi, so the first thing she wrote was, “You’re bi? Do you really like pussy?” Accompanying the questions were a couple of pictures of her from neck to knees, with her in nothing but her birthday suit. Cue drool.
“Yes,” I said, and responded to her pictures in kind. And then we got straight to the point.
“What hotel are you in? I’m not far from you, I can be there in 20 minutes.”
So I told her where I was staying, jumped in the shower to wash off the post-flight grimy feeling, and laid down to wait.
She was just as beautiful in person as she was in her pictures. 165cm, long brunette hair, she told me she was half Turkish and half Dutch, and was in town visiting family. I shared my own mixed roots, and then we got down to business.
She wasn’t the only person I had sex with while I was in Turkey, but the sex was definitely best with her. After we finished destroying the bed we slid to the floor and shagged some more before moving back to the bed and then back to the floor. It was hot, and it was exactly what the doctor ordered after my flight. The perfect way to start my days o’ relaxation.
I have no idea what her name was. And I’ll never find it out because now that we’re not in the same city, I have no way of finding her on Blendr. But that’s okay, because that’s exactly what we both wanted: a good fuck with no strings.
The next nights I toyed around with Grindr, since the Blendr well was tapped out. I ended up meeting one guy once—it was one of those nights where you think, “I should have just jacked off.”—and another guy twice. The sex with him wasn’t as steamy as with her, but it was still good enough for seconds.
Unfortunately, to date she was the only girl on Blendr interested in a quick fuck; the rest always want to chat, and I gladly oblige, but the conversations have yet to really be the kind that pique my intellect. The guys, on the other hand, are blatant as fuck: “Sexy, wanna fuck?” And so it is that I’ve found more use for Grindr than Blendr since I’ve been back home.
Now, this all makes it seem like there is some truth to the idea that such “dating” methods make it easier for us to objectify people, to see them as a means to getting off. And in these cases, that is indeed how it was. I found someone to be my sex toy, and they used me equally as theirs.
But how many people have I met online that turned out to be some of the best people I know?
One girl friend of mine entered my life via an online chat site during my first semester at university. We chatted briefly, and then she asked if I wanted to meet up with her. I said yes, and thus started a good friendship. We never had sex, though we came close a few times, but had it not been for the Internet I would have never met her.
Years later, I was chatting with a guy online, a guy who shared my nerdy passion for languages. One night, I was out dancing with friends when a random guy stopped me to say that he was pretty sure we knew each other. It turned out to be the same guy. Granted, maybe he would have come up and talked to me even if we hadn’t chatted online prior to meeting at the club, but this way we were already acquaintances, it made having a conversation easier. We had sex that night, and since then our friendship has bloomed into one of my most cherished.
My ex-stepdad is married to a woman that he met online, and they’ve now been happily married for more than ten years. A friend of mine met her fiancé online, and he subsequently moved to her city to be closer to her.
The truth of the matter is, whether or not we objectify people has nothing to do with how we meet. I can go out to a club, pull a dude or a girl and objectify them just as easily as I can online. Or I can actually have a legit conversation with them just as easily. It depends on my mood and the vibes the other person gives off.
I admit, it’s more convenient in terms of chatting with people, but that also cuts both ways: I can get straight to the point and tell you to get your ass to my place cuz I’m fucking horny as shit, or I can coolly get to know you before we agree to meet in person for coffee at a later date. The people who are purely using these tools as a means of finding one-night-stands are the same people who would be out stalking prey in the clubs. If that’s not your style, then there is definitely a site or 50 out there for you, just like there are cafés and bars where people go to have real conversations and not a hook up.
As for me, I’m still down with both, whether it be online or live. And I think I hear my iPhone beeping; there must be another bite…