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GAY BLOG by SCRUFF

Despite numbers and mathematics being the universal, practical, and logical language of the universe, “numerology” itself is not usually based on any real logic. In fact, the patterns found in numerology can sometimes appear mostly meaningless. Personally though, I always find comfort in patterns. In numbers. In the throes of uncertainty, patterns and numbers are something I can always rely on. Unlike most things in life, they are predictable. So for this reason I am very excited to welcome the year 2020: the year when the first two digits match the last two digits. This only happens every 101 years — meaning for most of us, this is the only chance we’ll get to experience this in our lifetimes.

Julius Caesar declared January 1st to be the first day of the year in honor of Janus, the god of new beginnings. However the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions traces even farther back than the Romans, to the Babylonians over 4000 years ago. The tradition continues to this day. So brace yourselves, the New Year’s resolutions are coming! Can you guess what the most common ones are? That’s right! “Exercise more”, “save money”, “eat more healthily”, and “lose weight”. They’re all focused inward, not outward, and ironically, sadly, 80% of these resolutions fail after the first month.

When my friend invited me to join him at Whistler Pride and Gay Ski week, I couldn’t think of a better way to start the new year. I’ve always felt like snow has a magical quality to it. It brings freshness and change to the world. It creates a fluffy white layer to cover all the ugliness and dirt in our view. It makes us take a step back from our hectic lives, smell a hot chocolate, get cozy by a toasty fireplace, and build a snowman. Often times snow brings back happy childhood memories, the spirit of the holidays, and a sense of serenity to our body and soul. There is nothing like leaving footprints on freshly fallen snow, hearing it crunch and crumble beneath our feet. Like the new year itself, snow is a new beginning, a fresh start, a blank canvas full of possibilities. Plus I love traveling because it gives me the opportunity to make new friends, create new connections, and broaden my horizons.

I’ve always been a big fan of both Canada and Canadians. Their warmth, their kindness, and their friendship never disappoint. In just a few days at Whistler, my friend and I formed so many fond memories together. A Canadian group we met in a hot tub one night invited us to go dancing with them. An emergency room doctor in the group told us a crazy story about a 20 year old guy ending up in the ER after his penis got stuck inside the weight plate he was using to masturbate! A guy in line behind us at Dubh Linn Gate ordered us all Irish Car Bomb shots to celebrate his birthday. He insisted on paying for the shots and refused to have it any other way. There was such a sense of acceptance and welcoming from the locals.

Two days later, however, things started to shift. I hate to say it, but the shift was the result of an influx of gay men outside of Canada arriving into town. On one night, back at Dubh Linn Gate, there were four of them taking up a table meant for six. The two “free” seats at their table went unoccupied for over an hour, but when we finally asked them if we could join them they said the seats were “taken”. For whatever reason they didn’t want their protective, isolating, 10-inch bubble to be popped or disturbed by strangers. They lied about the extra seats; no one ever came to sit down in them. Then, there was another gay man sitting at the bar, completely glued to his phone. He was on Grindr, trying to score a one-night stand like he was ordering take-out Sushi. As if this magical town, the largest ski-resort in North America, had nothing else to offer than a location-based hook-up. On top of that, he couldn’t even move 5 feet to one side to make it easier for everyone else who was at the bar, eagerly trying to order drinks. He couldn’t care less about making friends or enjoying the live band. If you were to tell me that any one of these guys had made New Year’s resolutions to “exercise more”, “save money”, “eat more healthily”, and/or “lose weight”, well, I wouldn’t be one bit surprised!

Unfortunately it’s not a uniquely gay thing. It’s a problem everywhere. How and when do we lose our ability to care about others; to support one another? Social media has conditioned us so much to feed off of selfish forms of gratifications from our followers — from all the likes and comments on our posts — that we’ve almost lost our ability to truly care about each other. Moments like these ones at Dubh Linn Gate remind me what gets me up every morning, and why I love what I do. We need more kindness, we need more friendship, and we need more love in our hearts. We need more compassion, more togetherness, and more empathy. I honestly believe, with all my heart, that we can be better. We can do better.

We need better resolutions. “Exercising more”, “saving money”, “eating more healthily”, and “losing weight” are all well and good. Self-love is very important, and these resolutions can help with that. But what about resolutions that face outward, that look at how we can better love other people, and help the world around us?

Not only are we experiencing depression in greater numbers these days; we are experiencing it earlier in life, with each generation experiencing it younger and younger. As a society we have never been surrounded by so much wealth. Though it may not seem like it when you’re watching the news, the world is getting better in so many ways. We’ve actually never been safer than we are today. However, research also reveals that the wealthier and safer the place you live in is, the more likely you are to commit suicide. The more we have, the more we feel like we don’t have enough. We spend endless hours scrolling through our feeds on our phones, thinking we will never compare, we will never be enough, we will never feel significant enough. We are on a perpetual treadmill of desperation, always running yet never getting anywhere. Adulthood is exhausting and we are ALL trying to find our place in this big wacky world. So let’s make New Year’s resolutions, not just for a fresh start for us personally, but for a new and better “us” as a society.

More than ever, we need to celebrate just being here — being alive in 2020. That’s a big accomplishment in and of itself. We should take pride in who we are and who we love. We should be kind to others. The world needs all the kindness it can get right now. We should wake up each morning with the hope that if we can be kinder to others, we can create a better world. We should get out of our cocoons of self-absorption and start connecting with the people around us. We should tweet, text, post, and e-mail less, and have face-to-face conversations and experiences with others more. We should make a resolution to be more present, physically and emotionally. Friendship is possible. Love is possible. And they can spring up in the most unexpected moments.

My enduring resolution, this year and every year, is to seek out opportunities to connect with others more, and to help people connect as each day unfolds. As 2020 unfolds, I wish you peace, happiness, love, and kindness. But above all, I wish you deeper, better, and more fulfilling connections with the people around you. Now that’s a New Year’s resolution I can get behind.

Stay beautiful

This article is also available in: Português

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Orkut Buyukkokten is the co-founder and CEO of hello.com. He is an internet entrepreneur and social media pioneer from San Francisco who has dedicated his life to bringing people together, online and offline. After developing one of the first social networks, orkut.com, which at its peak had over 300 million users, Orkut has continued to inspire people around the world to come together and make authentic connections. Orkut is an out and proud gay man and a strong advocate of diversity and equality. He is a frequent commentator on the positive and negative impacts of social media, an outspoken critic of online bullying and a vocal advocate for the LGBT community. He is also an avid programmer, bartender, and certified massage therapist. Orkut loves to dance, and he is known for throwing one of the best parties during Pride in San Francisco.