There’s a boy you know on Facebook who posts the most amazing selfies. He looks like an angel, if angels did gay porn, and can put up a burningly celestial image in the morning, having amassed well over 1,000 likes by lunch. It’s totally that ‘butter-wouldn’t-melt-but-semen-will-swallow’ smile. Over time he’s built up a following for his selfies.
After all, our sexual attraction makes us gay men and we’re free to celebrate and affirm that by clicking ‘like’ on a hot boy. Plus we’re giving our sign of approval to the person in the image: yeah, you might know you’re hot, but if you’ve got it, flaunt it, and we all like to see something beautiful.
What drives the Repeated Selfie Poster? Perhaps it’s the same impetus that drives some gay men to go the gym religiously in the first place – even before taking the obligatory post-workout, artfully-angled abs shot in the changing room mirror. Physical validation. If you look good, you feel good.
The trouble is you’re not always your own best judge; but the selfie lets everyone else judge you for you. And if you’re real good at the art of the selfie, you know exactly which pec is bigger from which side and where to hold the phone so the light eliminates shadows under the eyes, then those ‘like’ notifications will keep flooding in throughout the day, vibrating their comforting warmth in your pocket.
Of course, that comfort’s gone cold the next day. Selfies, and physical validation, are short-term phenomena. In the great, gargantuan whirlwind of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram et al.
That ‘like’ may translate to ‘I wouldn’t say no to a go’, but really a pretty face on a newsfeed is no more than a quick flicker in another’s mind. It’s not something that anyone can build a healthy self-esteem around, for ephemera has no substance; it’s like building houses on sand or sculpting an ice palace over a hole, and you wake up each morning to another muddy puddle.
But it’s understandable, particularly amongst the gay male community, how selfies have become so popular. They’re easy likes. When Angel Boy posts a rare picture of his exceptional drawings, I’ve noticed the amount of likes he receives plummets. Where selfies are adored, self-expression is largely ignored.
This also goes cock in condom with our general obsession for categorisation – you know the inevitable and imprisoning ‘what do you do?’ question at parties, for just as you build up a reputation over time in community, you build up a certain rep on social media. Sexy selfie poster can’t have his gluten-free no-carbs diet and eat it; he can’t also be talented artist guy. Yet when he’s 70, forever mourning his lost looks, that skill at art will still be as fresh.