Every now and again you chance on an article on a cultural trend which draws some larger meaning out of it. A few days ago, a reader e-mailed an article from Out magazine asking whether Manhunt, a web-site to facilitate sex hookups for gay men, has destroyed gay culture.
We are all aware (that is, we gay men) how numerous websites like Manhust (and internet chat rooms) have made it easier for gay men to meet for sex — and sometimes hopefully more. Instead of just describing this phenomenon, writer Michael Joseph Gross tries to understand its social, cultural and personal significance as this paragraph near the beginning of the article makes clear:
Manhunt would be your perfect weapon, a heat-seeking missile for the weaknesses that have plagued us for decades. Perry Halkitis, a New York University associate dean and professor of applied psychology, says, â€œManhunt is a symptom. It does well because we don’t know how to relate to each other and we don’t know how to take care of ourselves.â€ Dan Savage, author of the sex column â€œSavage Loveâ€ and editor of Seattle’s The Stranger newspaper, says, â€œManhunt is a tool. Big, bad Manhunt doesn’t make guys drag themselves to the webcam and take all those pictures of their dicks.â€
Halkitis and Savage are onto something. Â It is a symptom of the difficulty we have relating to each other, an attempt to connect while avoiding the challenging and often messy means of building deeper, lasting and more sustaining relationships.
While understanding the phenomenon, Gross also offers some criticism of what it can do to us:
Too many of us, too much of the time, are cruising online because it’s easier and feels safer than mustering the courage, patience, discipline, and imagination required to help ourselves and each other become the men that, in our strongest moments, we want to be.
Well said, very well said. Â It is easier, but it doesn’t necessarily provide what we really want. Â It provides only a moment’s release, opening a window perhaps to a real connection, but one which we, all too many of us at least, close all too readily.
This is one article where you really have to read the whole thing to see where the author is going, to discover his attempt to understand the social, cultural and even personal implications of the phenomenon of internet hooking up.
Perhaps we could use the comments section here to get a serious conversation going about sites such as Manhunt and those implications mentioned above.
Related: Â Gay Men, Vulnerability, Relationship