It seems to be happening everywhere. From New York to London, to Sydney and Cape Town – the gay scene seems to be in decline. No one goes out any more, everyone’s just sitting at home on the internet…Sound familiar?
I don’t really think there’s a way of knowing for sure whether the scene is in decline or not. How would you measure it? By attendance figures at nightclubs, or by the number of nightclubs, or by comparing a current night out, with memories of how things used to be?
Irrespective of the current state of the scene, what happens when we do go out? What are we like, and what sort of vibe and energy do we give off? Do we put out a friendly ‘come talk to me vibe’, or are we all a bit guilty of not approaching other people and not being approachable ourselves?
I think the latter may be true, more often than not. In so many ways, modern life has had an insulating effect on our lives. We can now go for long periods of time without any form of human contact or interaction. For instance, I work from home. I go to the gym but it’s one of those no-fuss minimal gyms. A casual hi to the receptionist is about as in-depth as my conversation gets. I’ll usually pick up some groceries on the way back home from the gym – using the self checkout counter and again, bypassing the chance for even a fleeting conversation. The rest of my day is spent online and at home.
I like to think that when I go out and am in a fun, social mood, I can cast aside what has become my usual insular state. I know I definitely used to be able to do that during my 20s. But I also wasn’t spending the majority of my time online in my 20s either. I’m beginning to think that I may have let the online world affect how I interact offline, in the ‘real’ world. Just to be clear here, I’m not blaming the technology. I see this as something that I have let happen. The responsibility lies with me.
I also don’t just think that technology is the only factor here. As you get older and enter your 30s, you’ve got a bit of life experience behind you. While I know that it’s possible to meet some amazing people out on the scene, I can only count on one hand the number of people who are close to me, that I have met out. The reality (at least for me) has been that the people you meet out are just fun people to hang out with. It doesn’t necessarily lead to a long-term meaningful friendship. That’s totally fine, but maybe I am looking for something more meaningful than a one-night fun hang out. And there’s nothing wrong with that either.
The issue of approachability is a tricky one because I like to think that I am approachable, because I like to think that hey, I’m a nice, normal guy who treats people well. I’m starting to realise that while that may very well be the case, perhaps the convergence of modern technology, age and just the place I’m at in my life, means I might not be as approachable as I’d like to believe that I am.