IF YOU’RE OF A MIND to write a book about and for gay men and the Internet—or, say, fly fishing and the Internet, or careers in advertising and the Internet—know that your work will be hopelessly outdated about two hours before your publisher agrees to put forth the thing in ink.
This I knew, even as I launched my book, M4M: For an Hour or Forever—The Gay Man’s Guide to the Internet, way, way back in 2007. This I came to know more painfully, as each successive month of rewrites drew me and my oh-so-topical prose further and further away from what was evolving daily. Case in point: I had devoted one chapter to on-line pornography and had offered, quite viably when the initial writing was underway, stern but loving instruction on the rates and benefits of the major gay password sites. About two days later, these monoliths of gay smut went the way of the T-Rex and the free porn blog, like the little mammals scampering from their burrows to see that the nice meteor wiped out the bad boys, began its reign. And I won’t even go into the heavy use I made of AOL as the gay man’s portal into connecting in those innocent, pre-Google days.
Yet the book endures. It does not endure in the timeless and elegant manner of Middlemarch, perhaps. Nonetheless, hefty chunks of its more website-specific points are still valid, chiefly because I deliberately addressed only those few dating sites which, by sheer virtue of their (sometimes straight) subscription bases, simply could not be torn down all that quickly. And the marrow of the book remains sound because the essence of what we as gay men do when we attempt to connect on the Internet does not change—not from what I’ve witnessed, at any rate.
Jack Mauro lives and writes in Atlanta, where he’s currently at work on a new seriocomic novel, Good Oak.