The sad state of the gay dating apps scene

Some days ago I encountered an article which provoked a chain of reactions in my mind. It was even not an article, just an amount of statistics about the apps that makes their users the most happy/unhappy. And at the top of the unhappy users you could find Grindr, consuming 61 minutes a day of its user base and making it 77% unhappy. At a time where there’s a lot of thinking going about how our social medias applications makes us unhappy, and the current state of our gay scene (see this interesting article about gay loneliness), those stats are quite appealing.

Let’s not fantasize, Grindr is basically a meat market. It’s even of one the reason where I find the whole debate about those “no fem, no fat, no asian” as some small detail of it. The whole way this app works rests solely on the physical level. Let’s face it, nobody reads your description. Even if you craft it very well, even if you invest time on it, even if you have a lot to tell, the way the app is built rests solely on this small square. This creates this endless sea of torsos you can find. For everyone who doesn’t fit in those “fit” criterias, Grindr is basically a soul-crushing machine in an endless quest to destroy your self-esteem by forcing you to compare to standards almost unable to accomplish for any human being.

On top of that we’re making it even worse. I get the whole “an absence of response is a response”, we all faced some perverts dragging us through conversations about things we didn’t want to do (or even hear about), but let’s face it honestly : not responding to someone is just plainly rude. Yes some people can’t take a no, yes some people can force you, but not answering to a simple “Hi, how are you?” isn’t an answer, it’s a slap in the face in the most careless way. And I did it, and we all did, but while the gay scene was supposed to be a place where we could all be ourselves, find acceptance, sometimes help, we’re slowly transforming it into a digital inhuman place where if you don’t have those perfect abs, you’re basically not even worth talking to.

And those apps also reinforce our own self-destruction system. By feeding us with rejection, through those absence of answers, those unrealistic body expectations, we’re bit by bit destroying our own self-esteem. The end result of this whole ecosystem? Even when we find ourselves in the real life gay scene, we’re too afraid to approach someone. So we switch those apps on, hoping that this guy who caught our eye will be online, not even daring to talk to him as he’s drinking one meter away, crushed as we are by those rejections be expose ourselves on a day-to-day basis. Too many times I had a guy crying on my shoulder, after a small talk, we’re the only thing I said was that he was beautiful, that he deserved to be loved. Not even in a flirty way, just because it was a fact that needed to be stated. But we became so afraid to show our weaknesses, fearing that those would provoke even more rejection that we’re not even capable anymore to compliment someone, even a friend.

Our behavior on Tinder isn’t that better. We accumulate matches like some social score, living in the worst Black Mirror episode ever. Most of the time we’re not even taking the time to send a message or answer to those people we matched with, stuck in a never-ending quest, persuaded we can find better if we only keep swiping. At the end of the evening and the beginning of the night, we’re stuck alone, swiping left or right without even starting a discussion.

The worst part of this gay digital ecosystem? We’re to blame for it. Yes Grindr and other apps put the focus on our bodies instead of our minds, but we are the one skipping description, avoiding discussions, destroying human interaction in our endless quest for a fantasized other half. Day after day, we’re building our own fortress of solitude, focusing our tired eyes on those small screens. In an era full of sex positivity, we’re killing human positivity. And by putting the focus constantly on sex positivity, we’re slowly forgetting any “love” positivity.

Obviously this is based on my experience, and some friend experience. For some people I’m sure that those apps do a lot of good, but I know for a fact that this is also soul crushing for a lot of us. But for those who can relate, please take some time to reflect on how we behave on those apps. And thrive to be more human. In an endless sea of torsos, dare to be the heart.

Introverts in a world of rainbow extroversion

I’ve always felt a bit distant from the LGBT world, felt like I didn’t fit in, that it wasn’t a place for me at all. But I came to think, thanks to the book Quiet by Susan Cain, that the main problem I have with the LGBT world is that it’s entirely aimed toward extroverts. I’ve never been the party kind or things like that (which has always sounded a bit weird to most of my friends…), but even in gay bars do I find it difficult.

Do you have any idea how incredibly difficult it is to talk to someone in those bars ? Or are you just supposed to keep on shouting over the latest pop star singer and hoping the other will hear you ? If only there were calm places where it’d be possible to just engage with people.

LGBT Parades & celebrations

“The gay man that stays clear of the pride parade is assumed many things,
his biggest offense being his refusal to join in the fight.”

Same goes for the Pride Parades, where I’ve been repeatedly targeted for not “fighting for our rights” or for being some kind of “closet-queen” because it was something I didn’t want to go to, but the fact is simply that, again, those parades are a pure demonstration of extroversion.

And while I find it cool and great for most people to be able to express their joy, the way they are, it’s really not my cup of tea at all. Being in big crowds freaks me out, sticking around with flamboyant guys slowly drains me out of energy so much that the only thing I want to do is go back to my flat and crawl into my bed.

While the extroverts may find it useful to be quite flamboyant, go march and things like that, I prefer to change minds by writing, talking, engaging with people in a one-to-one way, not in those kinds of celebrations. Thanks (again) to the Internet, I’ve found that I wasn’t the only one feeling this way (see here, and here, or even here), and even found virtual places with like-minded people (here goes to Gaybros & Gaymers) as the physical ones were impossible to find.

What I want to point out here is the fact that being an introvert doesn’t prevent me to defend LGBT rights, I only do it my own way, and perhaps in a more quiet but nonetheless powerful one (Hint : introvert is quite different from shy, even if sometimes they go hand in hand, it’s not always the case.) and it seems I’m not the only one (heck, even porn stars are ! Or have a look at Tim Cook.).

Finding love thanks to the Internet

“Perhaps social media affords us the control we lack in real life socializing: the screen as a barrier between us and the world.”
Susan Cain — Quiet

I’ve been told again and again that I should “go out and meet people”, go into those bars, those parties, … Thanks, but no thanks. First those places make me feel awkward as I’m unable to speak or hear other people, second I’m really not gifted at mixing and mingling with people when there’s like a hundred around.

Growing up and discovering I was gay, it was also easier for me to find informations in books instead of the bars, where I couldn’t relate to all those flamboyant and loudy guys. It’s through books I discovered I was not the only one, through books I understood my attraction, through books again I discovered like-minded peoples.

That’s also why I’m using the Internet and applications to find, connect and meet people. Because it gives me a space to express myself, because it allows me to start conversation in a calm and different way. While some website and apps are really agressive and, for me, present the same problems the gay places have (being pretty agressive and straight forward), I fell in love with OkCupid, which allowed me to speak about what I love and meet like-minded people. Even found my boyfriend there (kudos OkCupid !).

Being introvert also brings its troubles and fights (but well, what doesn’t?), and while I enjoy going out with some friends, it’s also difficult to explain that it can wear me out, or that I prefer having a drink at home with some friends than going to the super-fancy-nightclub surrounded by half naked bodies. But as you can see here, it’s something that is discussed more and more (want more advice on how to deal with introverts ? hint hint!).

The problem doesn’t find its roots within the internet or the apps, but definitely within the fact that we transformed every single gay place into a giant glittery beat box, where introverted ones are purely excluded (except at the cost of great lenghts and expenses), therefore killing every single space left for introverts.

Being truly inclusive

“In a universal church, there should be room for the un-gregarious.”
Susan Cain — Quiet

So I’m wondering more and more how we could all find places for everyone in the LGBT world. While the acronym grows bigger and bigger (last time I’ve checked it was something like that : LGBTQQIAAP), it could be nice to find a way to also includethe introvert part of the LGBT population by provide quiet times, or quiet places; the aim being not at all to avoid social contact, but on the contrary to provide something different, some space where it could, in the end, be possible to be more social than what we currently have. Just in a different way.

I’m still thinking about what could be achieved, but Ineeded to write this down. Because I know I’m not the only one, and I’m sure it’s possible to find a place for everyone and to allow everyone to socialize outside of the virtual circle. Maybe we can give it a try?