Jim Duffy: How apps are bringing the ‘Swinging’ Sixties back to life

A condom rests on a computer keyboard. (Picture: Getty)
A condom rests on a computer keyboard. (Picture: Getty)
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Former police officer Jim Duffy finds himself increasingly embracing his ‘hippy tendencies’ as he gets older, leading him to investigate the world of online sex apps.

Life is all about timing … And unfortunately I did not get the opportunity to experience the free-love movement and the Swinging Sixties. I’m not sure I would have been much of a hippy, but as I get older I can feel some hippy tendencies kicking in. One of these is the notion to experience and have some sexual fun (in a threesome or maybe even an orgy) Yes, I did say think that and say it!

A Scottish columnist writing about sex outside a traditional heterosexual, monogamous relationship is a little shocking. Some may even feel the need to scream “Repent!” as they recoil in contempt for my wanton human frailties.

But hold on there … wait a minute. I bet many of you did indeed enjoy the Swinging Sixties and I also bet that some are just a little bit curious about a more adventurous sex life … are you not? After all the Romans had their orgies and the Dutch today have their nude saunas, so why can’t we live a little bit more of risque life and walk on the wild side?

As I said, life is about timing and, as luck would have it, accessing the world of open sexual behaviour has moved on a bit. No longer do you need to go to the right “parties” or join secretive clubs. No longer do you have to scour the personal ads sections of certain newspapers. Today, it is all accessed via your mobile phone and some apps.

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But first let’s be sure about what we mean here. There is online dating, which has been transformed by apps like Tinder. Then there are online hook-ups, which are more geared up for the more imaginative, curious and open-minded. Online dating by swiping left and right is a no-nonsense way to meet someone fairly quickly. But that meeting does not have sex right at the heart of it. No, I feel there is a little romance and a tad of fancying someone related to this that will lead to a second date and perhaps a relationship. Whereas hook-up apps are designed to cut through the dating verbiage, the ritual and lack of straight talking.

Today’s hook-up apps are all about the exact opposite and, in effect, open up a speedy but discrete way to quickly return to the Sixties again and have some interesting encounters. Albeit without the use of LSD, marijuana, Bob Dylan, Jefferson Airplane and long hair-dos.

But, like most things technological, one must get with the lingo and the speed at which those using the technology like to move at. It’s an education in itself. Firstly, choosing the right app can cause you some mild stress as there are so many. Remember, sex sells right? One can choose from Feeld to Pure to Wild to Blendr. Indeed, all I had to do was Google “top hook-up apps” and up pops a whole new world. So, I chose advice from Marie Claire online which has recently published an article entitled, “These are the best apps for no strings sex”.

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So, off I went and chose an app. I downloaded it and put up my profile. But then it asked for my preferences. And that is when I realised that things certainly have moved on from the Sixties when it comes to venturing into sex that involves more than two people.

I had never heard of some of the terms and when I looked them up, even though I’m a very open-minded person, was stunned and educated at the same time. Nevertheless, I took the safe option and typed in “mmf” and “ffm”. I steered clear of some of the other nomenclature fearing that I didn’t have the bottle, the stamina and indeed the body needed to participate. Right, I thought, we are off and running.

Nothing happened for a few minutes, then a whoosh of replies and profiles liking me and wanting to chat. Was I just the new guy on the scene that had sparked people’s interest or was there a whole sub-culture that was well … not very sub and pretty mainstream? It appeared half of London was up for the cup and hooking up. Oh sorry, I didn’t mention that I steered clear of doing this in Edinburgh as I didn’t fancy meeting with John from East Haddington and Isabel from Broxburn. No, I ventured into the metropolis for my first foray.

As I started to chat with some of the others, I began to feel intimidated. “More pics please” was the constant request. God knows why as I had already put my pic on my profile. But, the avid requests for more kept on coming.

And I soon found out why. Unlike Tinder dating, the hook-up crowd are a little picky and are looking for an attractive sort. So having a slightly saggy bum and not having wash-board abs, I was a bit embarrassed to share more. Mind you, they had no qualms whatsoever about sharing theirs. So, if you give it a try, be ready for a full on body fest.

It all got a bit much and, if I’m being honest, I was spoiled for choice and mentally fatigued by it all. Yes, there were some real weirdos as you would expect. There were some strange odd-balls who asked some very peculiar questions. But, on the whole, my mind was opened up and I still have the app on my phone. Yes, the world is all about timing and, having missed the Sixties, I’m glad that the technology could bring it back to life.