Creative Commons Licence
Awkward Sex in the City by E. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at awkwardsexinthecity.blogspot.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at awkwardsexinthecity.blogspot.com.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Limits


The claustrophobic, virtual world of gay social networking applications, forces one to face a number of truths about the way in which one deals with the others and the ways in which he is being perceived. Since it is a medium constrained by the very nature of its interface, it seems that every word, gesture, point and letter acquires a profoundly significant meaning. And what those brief, fleeting exchanges reveal are certain limits and limitations of one's self and the interactions one can have with the others. In the gay virtual world, of supreme order, is the limits of desirability. I have to come to terms with the "limits" or "limitations" of my own desirability and somehow train my mind not to create any association between that desirability and my own sense of self-worth in a community where self-worth is primarily defined by such "desirability". Somehow such reaction as "two exclamation marks" followed by being "blocked", the moment I show my face, should not signify anything related to my own idea of who I am and how I am received. I should not think what such perplexed indignation might mean. I must train my mind to stop at a degree of bemusement or detached engagement with such bizarre and violent reactions, to the very appearance of my face. It is a struggle for me, to not think of my physiognomy, the lines and contours of my face that somehow elicit this colourful assortment of disgust and displeasure.
I can not deny that when it happens it eats away at my sense of peace. Or maybe self-complacency. It disturbs me how much my face, my body, my appearance can be so vile in the eyes of others. So reviled to the extent that they wish to "wipe" me out from their cyber existence. One always rationalizes such reactions as being context specific, i.e. happening in cyberspace, over social networking apps, subcategory - soliciting sex from strangers. As such one can think it is a hardly an objective medium to judge something as complex as the "appeal" of one person to the others. And yet while that comes forth as a consoling idea, and a plausible one at that, one cannot help but think that in the absence of any other context where someone's "appeal" or desirability can be “properly” assessed or considered with more depth or nuance, then this ephemeral, transient, virtual space becomes so fraught with expectations and meanings. It is because of how difficult for a community like ours to encounter each other outside of such context that something as “grindr” transforms into a medium where a lot of how one presents themselves and how they are perceived by others becomes laden with meaning and produces more than just a passing shrug or other signs of indifference or even revulsion. In a real life encounter you cannot “wipe” someone out because you find them unattractive. And you cannot “block” them from your visual field of vision. The constrains of civility and social decorum might prevent such drastic reactions. The utmost anyone can do, is turn their head and walk the other way. The licence to “block” and “wipe” seem to stem from that emancipated sense of action that cyberspace provides, or as a former date pointed it out to me, the “disinihibition effect of cyberspace”. As the policing and corrective social mechanisms do not operate the same way they do in real, physical encounters all of us at some point lean towards a more pronounced degree of violence, somehow we are desensitised by what we can't see. It is all in the face. I try to think that if any of the people who blocked me or who showered me with hysterical punctuation actually met me face to face, they would be forced to express their revulsion in more humane ways. And as such the sting I feel from receiving those explicit and many times hostile reactions might take more subtle forms and not weigh too much in terms of meaning or significance.
There is no denying that there is a sense of a bruised ego in that realisation and that such perceived injury might stem from some form of narcissism, but the fixation on appearances and looks is exacerbated by the medium itself and the way in which people encounter each other. It makes one wonder what is the “proper” limit of considering one's looks and what they mean in relation to others. Do appearances then merit such types of reactions? Do they have an inherently intrinsic value that warrants such wholesale judgements or extreme responses? And how can we receive such reactions in a way that does not disturb us or unsettle how we think about our self-worth?
I am not preaching a cult of sensitivity or even calling for adopting a more courteous way of dealing with each other, that it is too idealistic even for me. I get ignored by the overwhelming majority of the men I pursue online. That does not even disturb me in the least. It never makes me question my self-worth, or doubt the way in which my looks affect how I am perceived. It definitely makes me confront the limits of my desirability but in a statistical kind of way, nothing that is existential or profound. Since silence gives one the space to imagine other possibilities of what might have caused such lack of response. Hysterical indignation or virtual disappearance don't allow for this luxury. They immediately show the effects of revulsion, disgust and displeasure. 'You are undesirable to the extent I want to wipe your face off the planet, my planet”.