Digital Natives

Digital Natives

That’s a new term being bantered around in the business world which refers to people born not much earlier than 1985 who grew up with a computer in their playpen or a smartphone up their butt and so have always been quick IT learners. A nice neat description, but human resource experts warn employers that use the term in their job opening ads that they may face lawsuits from older, but equally component workers on the grounds of age discrimination.

In the gay world, it is largely because of all this techno stuff that our own brand of “digital natives” have grown up in a sub-culture no longer centered on bars as places to cruise, or baths to connect in (notice how many bath houses have shuttered or have turned into God’s waiting rooms in the last few years?) or face-to-face encounters or conversation or even, Christ, real sucking and fucking. Instead, for them, gay life has always been dominated by pixels, e-mails, texting (not talking) and apps like Scruff. Worse, it has made virtual sex, i.e., camming and the endless availability of web porn and dirty pics afforded by all the hook-up sites not just an option but a preference.

Our obsession with our phones among both str8’s and gays has become this world’s biggest addiction. I mean, where else can you get instant gratification – or rejection – as a human being, 24/7?

This is not to say all young gays are without social skills. But I think that this technology has made many of us – young and old – social cripples. Or maybe it’s the technology that attracts the social cripples among us in the first place. After all, in this not so brave new world, you really don’t have to be courteous or polite or diplomatic. You’re facing a screen not a person. In an uncomfortable situation? Just don’t respond or better, block the fuck. Feeling inadequate? Create a whole bogus person, the wild boy you’d really like to be. Hey, you have no intentions, despite all your come hither talk, of ever meeting the guy, right?

A few weeks some ditz on Grindr with no pic and no profile info left me this message: “You’re an asshole, Ray.” Okay, maybe I am – as I’ve said before I really don’t give a fuck what people think of me – but are you that much of a faggot not to show your face like a man? That’s a sissie’s way of dealing with confrontation. Of course I blocked him – big fucken deal.

Worse, this abruptness and incivility rubs off on all of us, even those of us who were brought up to know and act better, and, soon, without realizing it, we become the same dispassionate, shallow pricks we complain about.

So does this make us over 40 smartphone users “digital naturalized citizens?”

Just wondering.

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