This article was published on March 31st, 2020
Since its launch in 2009, Grindr has made a huge impact on the gay and bisexual community that is still being dissected to this day. With more than 3 million users daily across over 200 countries, it is estimated to be the largest online gathering spot for men in the history of social apps. These figures are wrought with controversy, however, as the app has led to marriages and friendships, as well as anxiety and addiction for many users.
Without question, Grindr has been an integral component of liberating men to find one another and connect, but fast forward to 2020 and now many are pondering what Grindr and other similar apps have done to affect mental health. There has not been extensive research on this phenomenon that is conclusive, but early research has shown that when users of the app click around, they receive pleasurable responses to the brain and this release becomes a mild form of addiction that can be difficult to break from. While the word ‘addiction’ receives a lot backlash with some in the community, it cannot be denied that Grindr has caused a seismic shift in the sex meets technology debate and the number of men reporting anxiety and distress because of this technology encompasses a large section of the community.
A Hookup App with a Heart
Initially solely used to meet and connect with other men primarily for sex, Grindr has evolved over time to include health advisories, ads for testing facilities in cities, as well as trending news and information central to the community. The company’s decision to address both sexual health and now mental health has been applauded across the board, and there are discussions to do more to make the app more palatable for its millions of users.
Perceptions of Social Progress
Over a decade later, now gay marriage is legal in many countries, and although societal norms are more open to unions between same-sex couples, it is still difficult to find a partner. According to several men that have been surveyed, apps have made the gay scene as well as gay apps hypersexualized and thus intimidating. The boxes that are ticked off on Grindr can lead to exclusion and competitiveness, a hierarchical, elitist system that can also amplify racism and prejudices that the gay community still struggles to evolve beyond. No matter how one is rejected – whether directly in person or indirectly via an app – it can be a hard pill to swallow.
Knowing Your Worth
Gay men suffer from more self-esteem issues than their straight counterparts on average, and Grindr has led to many men feeling inadequate in an entirely different arena. The LGBTQ+ community has fought to be heard in mainstream culture and now the fight lies within the ‘gayborhood’ to come to grips with the new reality of advanced technology when it comes to meet and sustaining relationships. As the modern world continues to expand and creep into every aspect of life, gay and bisexual men must be upfront and truthful with what they want out of an app like Grindr and outline realistic expectations in order to maintain a healthy balance.