For good or evil? Are social dating apps really the way forward?

Grindr, Scruff, Hornet, Recon, Gay Romeo, Tindr… you’re bound to have heard of at least one of them, and if you haven’t then you have probably been hiding under a technology free rock. “Lucky you” ;p.

These social apps are being offered as the new answer to sex, dating and coffee’s in busy cities and suburban hides across the world. But are they really the way forward?
Like all things, Grindr has it’s advantages and flaws, so let’s look at what makes Grindr so attractive and where we are failing with social dating apps.

Grindr is an easy, accessible way to meet people online and see who is closest to us and looking for contact. At the click of a button we can start a conversation with no need for awkward shuffling across a bar, or that weird, “does he? doesn’t he?” eye contact thing. We open the field for play, and then… “bloop”, that ultra satisfying noise that indicates a reply. Instantly affirmative, just like candy crush, we have received a message, a connection and the possible makings of a hook up, a date or even a friendship.
Grindr can be handy at home, in your own city, town or country, but is perhaps even more useful when you’re in a country or place you’ve never been to. Your plane lands, 3g data roaming kicks in and you’re straight onto Grindr. Who is about in this new city, who will show me around and will I have a holiday romance, (or at least a good shag)?
Furthermore, in countries or cities where it is dangerous to be openly gay, Grindr can offer the safest means possible of communicating with other gays and also allows those in the closet to start making connections and experimenting in a discreet way.

Grindr is clearly a very handy tool and allows ease in making new connections, hence it’s popularity and usage.

However, is this ease in communication and computer fast response really good for us or is it killing our ability to learn how to have actual human to human connections?

Grindr like all computers is, fast paced, convenient and emotionless. In many ways this may serve us, removing the need for anxiety and giving us confidence in approaching those we may not otherwise have felt comfortable speaking too. It means that people can reply regardless of what they’re physically doing at that time. One could start a conversation when at a work meeting, on the toilet or getting out of the shower. And you may expect instant replies from people doing the same sorts of things.
But can you apply these things without technology? Would you start chatting someone up in a bar while they were taking a shit. Perhaps, but I expect not. My question being: is Grindr teaching and encouraging behaviours that give us unrealistic expectations when it comes to face to face connections?

From my experience of Grindr, it is common to behave slightly or entirely differently on the app compared to when/if you meet an individual, (couple or group). If you are overly confident on Grindr and then totally shy in person then you are not representing your true self. It seems to me not uncommon to build a digital relationship with someone only to find out they are totally not what you expected when you meet them and this can be somewhat problematic.
Another common issue is that of finding out that someone looks completely different from their pictures, if they even sent them! Or they sent you pictures of someone else entirely. This again is dishonest and a potentially dangerous and flawed way of communicating; especially as you have started to build your connection on an altered truth or a lie. There is always the argument to say that personality should come above looks, but then again this is a personal preference and it is unreasonable to assume that everyone thinks the same way.

Ultimately, Grindr is placing a computer in between human to human contact. And in the same way that smart phones keep us from looking up, Grindr can cause one to get stuck in this kind of communication and forget to ever go out and meet people face to face.

I am a child of the internet. I grew up with my Nokia 3310 and the internet as my primary means of communication. I am from a small town and was closeted for many years, when I did come out and make it to London, I freaked out after the first 2 attempts to meet people in a bar and walked straight into the open arms of the internet and Grindr.

For todays generation, the internet and other forms of technology such as smart phones, Facebook and Grindr are extremely influential and powerful sources for education and communication. And considering the extreme lack of social/sexual education in British schools and homes, particularly on LGBTQ lifestyles, there is no surprise that we are learning from the internet! Where else are we to find out who we are and what this means in society.
Yes, at the age of 23 and having been in London two years and out for 5, I now have some experience with being gay and queer and finding out how this affects me and how I can use it and function (to an extent), within society. I have learnt a lot about who I am but I am sure I will never stop learning and things will also change over time.
Some of the experiences I’ve had both positive and negative I would not trade in as they have provided me with friends, faith and – even though sometimes painful – growth. But some I feel would have been better if avoided as abuse from others and yourself is something that can cause more damage than good to a human.
One experience I have felt hugely cheated out of is that of learning how to meet people face to face. People I may want to develop romantic and sexual relationships with. And also people who I can have relatable friendships with; the equivalents to “My Girls” or “My Bro’s”. Instead I found Grindr.

I understand, in hindsight, that I should take Grindr with a “pinch of salt”, or not expect too much. I even find myself still downloading it ironically only to be drawn into obsession a week down the line. But for the even younger generation or those just emerging from suburban hideouts and closets, Grindr is the amongst the first most available, powerful and educational resources. These people are walking into a dishonest and sometimes savage digital jungle. Our social behaviours are muddled and blinded by this wall of technology and there is no obvious alternative to seek guidance from. Phrases that open the doors to discrimination and advertise our internalized homophobia sprawl across profiles reading, “NO BLACKS, NO ASIANS, NO FEMMES! and STRAIGHT ACTING ONLY” like bumper stickers. Sexual preference is confused with prejudice and racism and our minds are closed to seek anything but our initial fantasies and desires. How are we supposed to even know who or what we like if we have never been out and experienced it? Computers and books are NO SUBSTITUTION for human contact and physical and emotional experiences!

So what happens next?! What can we provide to help this situation? I hope that this essay will open a discussion and allow people to be heard and perhaps meet new people, make connections and gain a friend or a guide.

Even better is if we can meet for coffee and talk in an honest and open manner.

So please don’t hesitate to contact Ted “Artpornblog” with any questions or views and please feel free to comment below.

Time to do something away from the screen and let your human contact begin.

Ted Rogers “Artpornblog”




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