You can’t get more upfront and visual than Grindr. It’s the frank, confrontational reality TV show contestant of the social media app world, assuring you if it has anything to say it will “say it your face” or telling you “what you see is what you get”. Of course the truth is something quite different. Grindr is merely a cloudy mirror, vaguely reflecting society but usually doing its own hair or photoshopping out its eye-bags.
What it has done with its instant gratification storefront, however, is slowly strangle some of those quainter things of days gone by. Innocence gently erodes thanks to its in-your-grill bullishness. Dignity aside, Grindr’s main victims lie before us like discarded Kleenex on the floor of One Direction’s tour bus.
Back when online social interaction was reduced to sitting at a computer ‘scanning’ your locale on programs like ICQ or any old-school messageboards for like-minded individuals, you wouldn’t have much to go on when it came to identifying your chat partner. Names like foxi_bunni_1989 and luv_mussel (oh yes) could be extremely misleading, so the first question to get out of the way was a/s/l? Age? Sex? Location? Only then could you be sure you weren’t talking to your mother or maths teacher.
Sadly, everyone usually lied about A. Some funsters with feelings they couldn’t quite put their finger on would also lie about S. And L? Well, who really cared about L, so long as they were far enough away not to know you were lying about your ASL too? With Grindr, it’s all there already – your facts and figures presented like Miss World’s vital statistics. No surprises – except the ones you’re lying about.
Being truthful about your height
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a keyboard and an empty space on his calendar for Saturday night will lie about his height. Grindr doesn’t force you to display your height – or indeed any stats – but if you don’t, it will be automatically assumed your shirttails graze the ground as you walk.
So what’s the more diminutive dater to do? Wear stack heels? Arrive on a pogo stick? Why, no! Just bung a few extra inches on your height. Of course, it works! What are they going to do – bring out a tape measure and challenge you? Aren’t we always reading in the papers that numeracy levels are plummeting? How many of these idiots even know what six-feet tall even means? Or so reasons the empty mind of a height liar.
I am precisely 5’9” and a half (we must not forget this half; it is very important) and you would be amazed how many so-called six-footers I’ve been able to look squarely in the eye. Often, I glance up from their gaze just to make sure they’re not sporting a six-inch forehead. Because social media and apps encourage us to present a version of ourselves we’d like to be, height is usually the first thing to get a donk on it.
The excitement of seeing the bare chest of a stranger
Unless you run a beach bar in Benidorm, you don’t often get to see what’s going on under the bri-nylon collar and cuffs of whoever’s sitting opposite you. While online dating gives you endless pictures to scroll through and make faces at like you’re trying different flavours of cat food, very few potential suitors pose shirtless. You have to wait until that moment you’re alone together and your hands and eyes can wander, silently praying there’ll be no third nipples or gangrenous navels.
Grindr removes this frisson of excitement without so much as offering you a hanky to wipe your eyes. It demands ultra body confidence – row upon row of glistening torsos (some with heads attached, others cut off just above the Adam’s apple) for your perusal. No body on show means there’s probably nothing worth seeing or your subject is shy. There’s no room for shyness on Grindr. Pre-packed tomatoes don’t fly here; you’ve got to be loose and squeezable. Six-pack after six-pack dance before your tired, jaded eyes; the bodies melding into one mass of personally trained magnolia.
Peeking at guys in the gym changing rooms (you all do it) loses its thrill, as you know Pecs_Appeal81 has got perfect taut abs and pecs you could skateboard on and he’s just the press of a button away.
Hi, how are you?
Such a simple greeting, the informal denim-sporting little brother of ‘How do you do?’ And yet it has been tarnished for ever as one of the more dead-eyed opening lines you can expect on Grindr. It bothers the app’s users so much, many of them devote most of their blurb space to specifying they do not want to hear that greeting.
“Have more to say than how r u,” or “Anyone just saying hi will get blocked straightaway,” quip these burgeoning Gore Vidals. Most conversations start with hello, but Grindr users have no time for this. They want to get straight to the point, cutting out any pleasantries or any pretence that this conversation involves two humans and not two iPad-hearted sex robots with erections that need ‘solving’.
Hello is one of my favourite words to write, type and say, but Grindr eschews it for an extreme close-up of your genitalia or your exact GPS location.
A slightly different version of this post originally appeared on Sabotage Times, where I’m ‘doing some stuff’ now.