Writer Nick Smith warns that ‘hook up’ apps are not only dangerous and fucking up the art of romance and dating, but also killing gay bars.
Being a single man at 40 is something many would balk at, but I’m more than fine with it. I’ve never felt that anyone else has to complete me. I’ve mostly felt comfortable in my own skin and I’m lucky to have a lot of close friends. That said, it would be wonderful to find someone very special to make breakfast in bed for and share hopes and dreams with during pillow talk.
You see, I am a dreadfully hopeless romantic and a serial monogamist. Unfortunately for me, and others afflicted with this seemingly rare condition, it’s a very difficult quest with the glut of so-called dating apps which are really just a way of arranging a fuck with a stranger without the hassle of dressing up and going to bar.
Had Tinder been around during the Sex and the City days, we wouldn’t have seen any of Manhattan’s brilliant bars and restaurants. Samantha’s scenes would have just been her swiping right with no witty badinage or sassy soundbites.
When I moved to London from Newcastle nearly ten years ago, I found a thriving gay scene in Soho and in Vauxhall and I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into that huge juicy apple, but going into them now the only apples you see are gay men glued to their iPhones on GrindR sending nothing sweet to other gay men who are about 100 metres away.
People are blaming the closure of Soho and other nostalgic haunts on gentrification. I understand there is less need for exclusively gay bars in our more liberal society, but it’s really these socially crippling apps that have riddled these bars with woodworm; although some bars do really exploit the pink pound and charge far too much for generic spirits and mixers, then have the cheek to give you your change on a silver tray, expecting to fleece even more out of us.
One of my favourite places in Soho was ‘Profile’ which boasted a brilliant steak night where I had many a guffaw with lovely pals. It was a surprise to see it close considering its ties to the Gaydar dating and social website, but the power and rise of these apps had eroded its clientele and it was left with nearly £3million in debt when it closed its doors.
A quick search in the App Store with the phrase ‘gay dating’ lists over fifty apps ready for immediate installation with at least ten of these being credible and having huge subscriptions. What is more disconcerting is the new app Squirt which seemingly has no restriction on the sexual content of photos. And there is a wonderfully pathetic one now called Bro where straight men can gab to each other about cars and football and then meet up to wank each other off.
Our society of instant gratification is one I’m at odds with. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a rather sexual person, but I derive far more from emotional intimacy than I ever will doing the dirty with a guy whose surname I don’t even know.
It’s a depressing and quite hopeless time for gay culture. These superficial and derisory apps have even infiltrated gay pride and other community events which seem to have big stands dedicated to them, highlighting the capitalist and commercial boom they have brought about. But at what cost?
I realise I am an older gay gentleman and that younger gay men may love the idea of hooking up in an instant, but I’d far rather sit drinking a glass of Malbec in the BFI looking at handsome brutes and hopefully striking up a conversation with one of them.
Not only are these apps doing damage to gay culture, but they are now also perfect hosts to opportunist and dangerous criminals to ‘sextort’ from an unsuspecting victim.
The number of alleged crimes involving Tinder and Grindr dating apps has increased more than sevenfold in two years, including reports of rape, grooming and attempted murder. This is very alarming and will only get worse given how apps are now promoting music and fashion events in a bid to snare a new catchment of men.
This is one problem that does not have an easy or evident solution. A lot of gay men I know say these apps are a great way of meeting people, but the only relationships I know from these apps are the couples in open relationships on them looking for fun.
Some say they are a great way of chatting when you’re alone in bars or feeling alone. I travel a lot with my real job and am often alone in restaurants, but I will far less likely be found launching yellow Facebook than I would be loading Twitter to see how many likes tor retweets the link to this article has. See I can be shallow, just in different ways.