in Thoughts

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.

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