Published on The National Student
Beginning to emerge into the awareness of all aspects of society, Grindr is an app that is tailored specifically for the gay populace to meet, chat and acquaint themselves with others nearby. Or so the app store description tastefully phrases it.
The reality of the app unfolds into a world filled with internalised homophobia, lecherous pensioners and curious straight boys. Think Tinder on steroids.
Grindr is a terrifying experience, acting as its very own world with a set of ideals, rules and hierarchies. Each town boasts their own big names backed with reputations and hidden identities of faceless men – with each town’s set of profiles acting as a microcosm for the overall app itself. One will find each and every type of profile within a fifteen mile radius, with this being replicated across the globe.
Yet one must ask, considering its exceedingly bad reputation and seemingly distasteful content, why is it so popular?
Interestingly, the vast majority of homosexuals have (or had) Grindr – myself included. Its main appeal also serves as its major downside; sex on tap. It is the 21st Century and as a society we have progressed into a state of sexual empowerment, with the app serving as an extension of modern attitudes to sex and relationships. This would not be such an issue if people had the looks, conversations or ages to actually be deemed an appropriate match. Alas, personalities, conversation or a similar age seems too difficult to fathom. Occasionally a hidden gem emerges and it is here that the app’s use comes into fruition, and joining seems somewhat worthwhile.
However, Grindr is a guilty party in giving the gay community a certain reputation, as well as ruining our chances of substantiality. It’s breeding us to judge others solely upon appearance and causing us to become hyper-critical of anybody that pops up. A strict process seems to exist, and repeats itself cyclically.
A conversation is started based upon appearance or the premise of an attraction. Whilst chatting, a different attractive individual will pop up and another conversation will exist side by side; flitting between the two conversations whilst maintaining flirtatious banter becomes a strenuous yet common occurrence. Ironically, your conversational partner will be partaking in similar behaviour. We’re forced to balance several different boys and once, and what’s worse is that it’s considered normal.
Grindr has rooted itself heavily in the way we meet up with those we find upon the app. Maybe he’ll take you to a fancy restaurant or a moon-lit walk along the beach, and all the right signs seem to be present. Yet, naturally, both parties will return to Grindr. The seemingly scary word of ‘exclusivity’ is devoid from the app’s populace, and it is only until a definitive relationship has been formed that Grindr is deleted from their phones.
We’re conditioned by our society to want the newest and shiniest thing, and this seems to manifest in Grindr chats – moving on almost instantly before moving back when a new message pops up, resulting in a deadly cycle.
The issue of internalised homophobia is rife, embedded in sentences of ‘no camp guys’ or ‘hate femme types’. As a community it seems we have lost a vital support network established by the early Stonewall pioneers, replacing this with self-hatred and a sense of judgement and ostracisation. No longer is it deemed acceptable to be yourself, but many profiles expect an adherence to certain character traits, and an abandonment of what they don’t approve of.
The worst kind of homophobia is exhibited within the app – with it deemed almost acceptable by society’s standards due to it being both so widespread and coming from the keyboards of a gay guy. It is not acceptable, and Grindr needs to work harder to eradicate it.
Romance seems to have been replaced by a myriad of rude photos, with introductions and names becoming second place. Asking how someone is seems to be greeted by ‘horny’ or ‘just bored’, which interestingly is often a synonym for the former. The art of conversation seems to have died unless it revolves around small talk or is laced with sexual undertones. Some even skip the small talk to merely initiate a hook up. Kudos to your confidence, but I’d rather you wouldn’t.
Grindr itself isn’t all bad. There are a few genuine profiles, and it often fulfils a need. There’s a reason it’s as popular as it is, and that’s because it’s easy. Talking to someone through the means of messaging is easier than approaching a stranger in public to offer a drink. It takes the uncomfortable, awkward encounters from the public world and plants them within the easy reach of our smartphones. It’s actually revolutionary, and deserves the credit it gets – it’s a perilous app with some good points. Just like all forms of social media it needs some screening, but it’s often the people that ruin it, and Grindr demonstrates this perfectly