We all know it, almost all of us have used it, and so few of us actually love it. I am talking about Grindr, the gay app used primarily for finding hook ups that has been a source of turmoil in many of our lives since its initial release in 2009.
Over the years, I have used Grindr on and off and have a hate-hate relationship with it. Grindr has been there for me since before I came out, during my discovery phase, and now continues to exist in my life even though I abhor using it. During these years, I have spoken to hundreds of men on Grindr, met less than one hundred in person, hooked up with a handful, dated several, and even called one my boyfriend for a year.
Grindr, to me, can be analogized to when cigarettes first came around. Everything seemed great until we all realized we were putting cancer into our bodies. Year after year, I come to see Grindr as the cancerous app of gay culture. Initially, Grindr was a great way to explore my sexuality before I came out. But then I came out and I was still using Grindr. Suddenly, it became the easy way to meet guys for dates. Of course, we all know the ratio of men on Grindr actually interested in meeting you with your clothes on. I tried apps that seemed to have a more serious focus for dating purposes. The problem with those were that they never had as many users as Grindr. The gay community is already small, so unless every gay guy is using a single app, you would need 5 or 6 just to reach certain segments of the dating pool. Grindr, being the most popular and first of the apps, always seemed to have every guy on it.
Ironically, I even met my ex-boyfriend on Grindr. We were both seemingly normal, working professionals in our 20’s looking for a like-minded man to settle down with. Of course, that didn’t last for various reasons. That alone can be the topic of many other articles. So what is really wrong with Grindr? Well, just about everything. I write this piece as a single man and I think many gay men of my generation can point to Grindr as a reason for why they may be single as well. Here are some of the problems I see with Grindr:
- Grindr is Addictive: I don’t know anyone who has used Grindr once and stopped cold turkey. Most men have had it, used it, deleted it, and gotten it back several times in their life. It is so convenient and entertaining that this is an easy problem to understand. It is hard to cut yourself off and take any one man seriously even when the right guy finally comes along in your life.
- Instant Gratification: Using Grindr in a big city has resulted in a generation reliant on instant gratification. We all know that we can go on Grindr and in minutes find the attention we are looking for. Whether it is a hook up, chat, exchanging pictures, or any combination thereof, we can get it on Grindr at any time of day. Why settle when there is a service dedicated to making you feel wanted? We have become a culture of “neeeext” because there is always another man waiting.
- Desensitization: Grindr creates desensitization among gay men similar to what the Internet has done for society as a whole. We can hide behind our screens and judge people based on their face, their bodies, or penises. We can block them in a matter of seconds and do not have to deal with any repercussions. We have lost our social skills and lost a sense of humanity. Grindr has commoditized the gay dating market. It has reduced us to a bunch of nudes and torsos and only the hottest are treated with any type of respect. We have trained a generation to value only the shallowest aspects of men, which is probably why many of us remain single. True love has very little to do with the attributes that Grindr puts on a pedestal.
- A Culture of Hate: Due to the desensitization perpetuated by Grindr, it has also become a forum for racism, hate, and cheating. Suddenly, when people can hide their faces, they feel comfortable saying what they want. They can list out the races that they will respond to, they can tell you that fat people are ugly, they can tell you how big your muscles or penis need to be in order for them to respond to you. They can be “straight” and cheating on their wife or girlfriend and think it’s ok. They can say that only masculine or straight-acting men are desirable. Grindr has truly become a forum for hatred against gays.
So what can we do? I know that this article will not cause a mass-exodus and deleting of Grindr by millions. What we can do is start using Grindr as a vessel to meet other men without succumbing to the negatives. Knowing that these apps are addictive, give yourself breaks. Maybe you can use it for one or two weeks of the month instead of every single day. Maybe you only need to use it on the weekend. It is healthy to get out in the real world from time to time.
We can also be respectful. Give people the time and understanding on apps that you would give them in real life. Do not just judge them on their looks. Ask them about their day, their goals in life, their hobbies. Paint a picture of a man that may be the right one for you beyond just his abs or outfit.
We can also be respectful. If a guy is not your type, say something nice about him and say that you may not be a match right now. Many guys respond surprisingly well to that simple and polite gesture of not blocking them with no comment.
Finally, do not be hateful. We are all a community of gay men at the end of the day and need to support one another. No one is forcing us to date or have sex with one another, but the least we can do is not include racist, shallow, and judgmental comments in our profiles and messages.
With a mature approach, Grindr does not need to be cancerous to our community anymore.