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Socially Stifled

by Thato Tsotetsi / 17.11.2010

Are you a victim of social media? Social Stifling is ultimately what social media does – unmaking social skills in the real world. I’ve found myself at parties unable to talk to strangers. Friends end up having to confiscate my phone because I’m always on it updating my status about how boring the party is (when it possibility isn’t). Can’t I handle people anymore? When did I become way more comfortable texting my mind rather than speaking it? When did social media replace social life?

A friend recently swore he’s refusing to find Mr. Right online. “If he’s gonna come, then he will,” he said. I wanted to agree but my longest lasting relationship was net based. Being closeted, I couldn’t walk up to the hot guy at the bar for fear of being bliksem’d and I wasn’t “ripe” enough to frequent gay bars. So a close virtual relationship with a guy who understood me was ideal. Three months into chatting, we met and completely hit it off. A year later we were still together. Though, sadly done now.

What did homos do before social media? Facebook use ranks third behind the population count of China and India – it’s one of the most populous countries on earth! 500 million users. It surpasses Google. The spate of fatal gay teen online bullying notwithstanding, social media tends to provide a “safer space” to socialize, out of reach of judgment and homophobia, especially in Africa.

Fairies have to be the most difficult people to get on with, I swear! The predisposition to bitchiness reigns. There’s a hierarchy. The aristocrats of gay society rule supreme. With gays you have to bring something extra to the table. Be the guy that designed Lira’s latest dress or the one with a Merc parked outside and the six pack (at the very least). We judge each other by these blatantly superficial standards. If you misstep and blow it with someone out of your league – you’ll be quarantined and demoted to the back of the club with the hired help! No wonder social media is such a popular alternative to real time interaction. Things are vicious out there.

In Hillbrow with friends, instead of Melville or Greenside, for a change, we went to the Cotton Pub, commonly referred to as Maxhoseng, for drinks. I was disarmed. Apart from being overdressed, I found myself at the mercy of the old queens with their blonde wigs and tank tops. What ancient forward social skills! Walking right up to a man and asking if he has a shag for the night? One even reached for my manhood to size me up! I was about to pull out the bitch in me – but thought better of it. This is how things work up in here. Old school. Unmediated lust. No pre-arranged meetings on Meat Market, no endlessly discussed sexual preferences, just raw testosterone seeping out of every filthy corner! The opposite of social stifling.

It was liberating. You get tired of slyly establishing the social standing of others in case the cute guy you wanna get with is collectively deemed “trash” because he lives in Soweto. Or worse – being dressed down by the cute guy’s posse who consider you too effeminate to be chatting them up. In my circles, pre-discussed sexual preference and pre-arranged meetings are necessary for survival. And where better to hammer out protocol than social networking sites?

At least the raw sexual tension at places like Maxhoseng is real. And spontaneous. From the heart (or loins). Social media – like Meat Market or chat rooms like Gay Twinks for Dads – shuts out serendipity. The thrill of chance encounters. The liveliness of nightlife. You swap nude pics and discuss penis size like you would the last season’s fashions. Then you meet at a preppy spot like Six’s in Melville to outlaw any suspicion of you being a broke ass sleaze, drink pink drinks and try to conceal the crackling chemistry between you and the guy at the nearby table because “Mr 12″, tall dark and handsome” from Meat Market turned out to be a short, frumpy old white man from Vereeneging.

With an upfront queen in a blonde wig you get exactly what you expect. Take one look. Mindless fun. Better that than the stuck up accountant you met online from KPMG who makes you fold your clothes neatly on his dresser and comes before your toes even begin to tingle.

We over mediated socially-stifled fags are pretentious and stuck up. We pretend to be something we are not – and this kills us. We stage manage our true selves while they (the old offline fags from the Skyline days) are mouthy, foul, effeminate and real. I envy those bitches. Sometimes. In between the tweets.

*Check out Thato’s blog for more stories about being young, black and gay these days.

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