Featured image by BeauGiles and used with thanks.
Gay online dating has gradually descended into a world of terror; with every sincere message comes a deluge of private picture requests and offers for ‘no strings fun’. When will gentlemen realise that setting your profile picture to a phallus just doesn’t cut it! You could have the nicest penis in the world, but if you’ve got a rubbish personality (or a face that a brown paper bag would improve) then I’m sorry but I’ll just have to pass. Gone are the days where I would hopelessly skulk around on Grindr, wading my way through rotund bellies and receding hairlines in search of that diamond in the rough. The time has come for me to jump ship, and try a different approach.
Twitter has been my sanctuary for quite some time now. Originally, I used it as a place where I could be myself, but I’ve recently started toying with the concept of ‘Twating’ or Twitter Dating. Twitter may be a posting ground for bowel movements, spam, pyramid schemes, and self-gratifying smugness, but what’s to say that you couldn’t find Mr Right there?
When you sign up for an account, you’re encouraged to write a small bio about yourself in less than 160 characters. Say goodbye to dating profiles that challenge Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Sites like Gaydar and Fitlads show a static profile, whereas Twitter is a dynamic microblog that features conversation, commentary and opinion. When I find someone on a dating site, one of the first things I try to do is connect with them over some form of social network; by doing so, you’re more likely to get an accurate overview of how they conduct themselves.[pullquote_right]You’re more likely to get an accurate picture of someone’s personality from a regular stream of updates[/pullquote_right]I appreciate that most people do watch what they post online, and although I’m most certainly not going to tweet about my (nonexistent) cottaging habits, I’m probably going to share news of my success in Powerhouse, or my frustration if my boss is annoying me. My point is that you’re more likely to get an accurate picture of someone’s personality from a regular stream of updates posted on a social network than a dating site where the user is more likely to shape their words to maintain a more positive, attractive image.
There are, however, a couple of issues. For example, how do you know the person you’re sweet talking is gay? Granted, there will be people who advertise themselves as being gay on Twitter, and there will also be those for whom no advertisement is required, but imagine messaging someone telling them that they’re particularly cute, only to be met with raised eyebrows and a message informing you of their devout love for the opposite sex. Another issue is the location service; when tweeting on a mobile device, and on some PCs, your location is plotted onto a map for all to see. This feature can be turned off, but what’s to stop someone infatuated with you from tracking you down as you commute to work on a daily basis?
That said, Twitter’s privacy settings do go above and beyond that of any other dating site. You can make your profile completely private and control who views your tweets, you can block people who fawn uncontrollably over you, and with the click of a button you can report users who harass you. You can also message people privately with contact details, social networking links, and miscellaneous chit chat.[pullquote_left]You get out of Twitter what you put in[/pullquote_left]I’ve met a few people off Twitter for dates before, and I found that one of the advantages is that, by talking to them and following their timeline, you start to better understand their personality. When you finally meet them, it’s easier to make the transition from ‘that bloke online’ to ‘the guy I’m dating’. There’s hardly any small talk, you know their interests, and you’ve got a basic understanding of what makes them tick. It’s less awkward, more productive and generally so much more fun.
As with most websites – whether dating or social networking – you get out of Twitter what you put in; it is what you make of it. If you want to meet people, hook up, or network with other professionals, then go forth and tweet. If you’re like me, and you’re obsessed, you might even wind up getting married on there! Anybody up for the hashtag #RobsWedding?