You have to wonder why, if some people hate these things so much, they are still even available.
What They AreWhat these things are (mostly) intended to be are content-free “Hello” mechanism.
In the real world, motorcycle riders signal each other as they ride by, acquaintances wave to each other across the bar, and people make brief eye-contact at the supermarket. We acknowledge each other’s presence and existence, and signal a mild recognition.
The intent of these online mechanisms is pretty much the same thing. “You’re on my buddy list and I thought I’d say hi.” “I looked at your profile and wanted you to know I thought it was good.” “I see that you sent me a smile, so here’s one back.”
Why People Hate ThemThe problem that arises is that many of these interactions which gay guys encounter (other than Facebook “pokes”) are on cruise sites, and thus may carry sexual intent. You wouldn’t be there if you weren’t looking for (or at least thinking about) sex, right? So when you “nudge” someone, what does it mean? (Well, it means exactly what you meant it to mean, right?)
For the person receiving the “tug”, though, it could be interpreted to mean many things:
- I’m your buddy, just saying hi
- I visited your profile
- I visited your profile and liked it
- I want you to visit my profile
- I think you’re sexy/hot/cute/woofy
- I think you’re sexy/hot/cute/woofy but I’m too shy to send you a real note
- I think you’re sexy/hot/cute/woofy but saying nothing more than “I think you’re sexy/hot/cute/woofy” in a note sounds dumb (and nothing more than “Hey” would sound real dumb)
- I expect you to know exactly what I mean by this and for you to do the correct follow-up, and I’ll be pissy if you don’t
What I DoWhen I get a wink/nudge/smile/poke/tug, I treat it for the one thing it unambiguously is: an invitation to (think about) conversation. (That’s the one thing definite: another person was saying “Hey, I’m here!”)
Then I analyze further. Do I recognize the screen name? (And if so, do I need to do anything more?) I most likely go look at the guy’s profile: maybe I’ll recognize his pic, or maybe he has new pics or new profile details. If he’s someone I have any interest in acknowledging back — I know him, or he’s sexy/hot/cute/woof, or I just feel that it would be polite — I’ll send at least a wink/nudge/smile/poke/tug in return (I’ll “wave back”). And maybe I’ll linger on his profile, check out his pics, fantasize a bit, and then send a full message back to him, saying how sexy/hot/cute/woofy I think he is and how I’d like to wink/nudge/smile/poke/tug him in person sometime and is he free tonight or this weekend?
But I find it really hard to be annoyed at someone whom I may not know who is waving at me from across the room.
(Now, if everyone across the room started waving all at once with big sweeping arms and jumping up and down… I’d probably pop one of those Viagra pills smuggled out of Nigeria by the prime minister’s cousin and go fuck them all at once.)