I just turned 37 last week. I was born in 1978 and grew up in a world without internet, mobile phones, Whatsapp, Gaydar, Grindr, Hornet, Scruff, Growlr, Facebook, Instagram, Snap Chat…. It was the world of the telephone. The spoken word was the primary means of communication. Without email, I wrote letters.. I can remember writing long, rambling love letters to my ex husband decorated with swirls and hearts and with my signature at the bottom followed by XXX. I would post it and await his reply. It was exciting, nerve wracking, romantic.. I’m so grateful to have experienced that world where romance was so old fashioned still. Everything was no immediate, one had to be patient and wait for a response.
Scroll forward 17 years and now I write on my ipad. There aren’t even keys any more, just my finger tips hitting the symbols that lie under the shiny perspex screen. For someone who taught himself to touch type during an exceptionally boring temp job at a packaging company in Dalston many years ago, it is a little strange I have to say to no longer feel the cool reassuring texture of the keys.
I embraced new technology and started to design and build websites at the age of 22. I can still remember the thrill of my first Apple Mac! It was a blue dalmation and sat on it’s very own computer desk (remember those?), with the little sliding ledge where my keyboard and mouse lived. My first email account was with hotmail. I used to sit and wait for each photo to download line by line, the pixels gradually forming the image. I discovered Gaydar and suddenly there was a means of connecting with other men. People wrote a lot about themselves back then. Along with a description of themselves sometimes paragraphs long, there was an equally long description of their perfect partner. Words such as loyal, caring, trustworthy, passionate along with his physical characteristics and what he should enjoy doing with his cock and arse. It was a much fuller picture.
These days we have Grindr. It seems to be the most popular app for men to use. Facebook for friends and Grindr for fucking. We live in this world where most conversations begin with ‘Into?’, ‘Hung?’, ‘Top/Bottom?’. There are very few words on Grindr profiles. We only see one picture, often just a torso (although I’m sure if Apple allowed it we would be greeted with a mosaic of various cocks and arseholes and not much else!). We literally know nothing about this person until we start chatting, and that in itself can be a chore! A typical conversation seems to go like this ‘Hi’, ‘Hi’, ‘How r u?’, ‘Horny, how r u?’… Nameless, faceless.. No wishes, no hobbies, no passions… Just sex….
Apart from the lack of empathy in our communications there is also the constant pressure to look perfect, be flawless, go to the gym every second of every day, have the perfect shirt, the perfect abs, the perfect car, the perfect boyfriend, the perfect pet! The list of requirements just to live and breath in this perfect gay utopia we live in are endless, unrealistic and damaging! Who cares if you don’t have the perfect body? We do not need to earn love, affection, touch, empathy and compassion. We deserve these things.
Yes, it’s true.. I get up everyday and think to myself, I must exercise, I must eat healthy food, I must do some sit ups. But more and more I try to remind myself to do these things for myself, to feel good about myself, and not for anyone else! Life is not a competetion, it is a journey. You do you. Let other people be themselves and live their lives how they want to live otherwise we shall end up living in a boring, colourless, homogenized world.
Am I criticising these apps? No. Afterall I met someone on one of these apps who has since enriched my life immeasurably and whom I love, admire, respect, trust. The person who started as just a single photo has become a real person with a story, a life. From a tiny 2 dimensional image amongst the torsos he has become real. Without Grindr we would not have ever met. From this technology beautiful things can happen.
But alongside the good there is of course bad. The problem with limited communication without the physical presence or even voice of the other person is that messages are open to misinterpretation. Misinterpretation which can easily lead to paranoia, second guessing, arguments, pain and upset. I believe that 90% of human communication is through gesture and body language. So when we remove 90% how do we really know what the other person is actually thinking or feeling? It’s like stumbling around in the dark! If we simply lifted the good old fashioned telephone and called that person or better still sat with them and talked face to face so many issues could be resolved so easily and without a fraction of the hurt and misunderstanding.
So. I know what you are thinking. What has all of this got to do with massage. I shall tell you. What I love about massage and why I feel it is such a beautiful form of expression is that you can connect with another human being. You can communicate clearly and consisely by talking with that person face to face beforhand and on top of that you have this beautiful connection of touching another person and feeling their energy, their warmth, their heartbeat and the gentle rythum of their breathing. If apps like Grindr, Gaydar, Scruff, which are amazing by the way and I am truly grateful that they exist and that there are such clever designers out there, but if they only allow us to communicate with 10% of ourselves, massage allows us to communicate fully, clearly with our whole body and all of our senses.
Connection, touch, sex, warmth, closeness, sensations are ultimately what we as human beings need. From when we are first born to the day we die each and everyone of us needs touch, kindness, compassion, intimacy, sex, love. I believe these things to be as fundamental as food, water and shelter. So be kind to each other, forgive each other, connect with each other.. Life is short.. Sex is wonderful but surely it is that connection to another person that we seek? Without which it’s just masturbation in public.
Sending Love and Light. Aaron x