We’re all familiar with Grindr by now, the infamous hookup app that encompasses the vast panorama of Perth’s comically underwhelming queer scene. From the naïve 18-year-old who still believes in love, to the geriatric fisting enthusiast, Grindr offers up an unending cascade of deeply, deeply flawed men. And, yet, after almost a year and a half entrenched in this black and yellow purgatory, I find myself unable to leave.
What began with a simple, morbid curiosity, a night of drinking alone, and a vague twinge of loneliness, rapidly spiraled into one of the less admirable lifestyle choices I now pursue on a near-constant basis. However, in between sending snide messages, getting lost in a cascade of faceless torsos, and trawling, valiantly, through the endless parade of pulsating peckers, I noticed something: If you stay on Grindr long enough, it gets real fuckin’ weird.
I, now a bona fide Grindr expert, have constructed a crude, yet scientifically faultless graph to demonstrate exactly what I mean.
As you can see, the severity of general weirdness of life on Grindr follows a clear exponential curve, and, like any great scientist, I can only assume that this rigorous study, with a hefty sample size of myself, is universally reliable and precise. Trust me on this one.
You may have also noticed that I picked out and marked a few choice points. These correspond to various incidences of weirdness I’ve encountered in this arduous ordeal. They are as follows:
Month 3: At this fledgling stage of my cybernetic odyssey, I hadn’t yet been overcome with a constant weariness. The year was 2014, life was good and the air was clean. A middle-aged bus driver messaged me and we had a long conversation about Transperth. As far as Grindr interactions go, this one was really quite pleasant. I asked him how many routes he took and which were his favourite (up to 16 in a day, and any that went past the beach or Mounts Bay Road (big surprise there)). It’s a fond memory.
Month 9: I was messaged by a striking young man who looked almost exactly like male version of a dear friend of mine. On our first date, he had a go at me for not talking enough, but I was mesmerised by the eerie resemblance. On our second date we went down to Fremantle at sunset and set up a seaside picnic, just me, and him, and his friend who was clearly in love with him. Just the three of us, enjoying a romantic rendezvous together. I don’t know if you’ve ever been third wheel to your own date before, but, let me tell you, not great. We didn’t have a third date. Shortly afterwards he changed his username to “abusive” so, if nothing else, I feel like I dodged a bullet on this one.
Month 18: Another doppelgänger. This time one who looked exactly like a younger version of my father. He didn’t send me anything lascivious, a small mercy for which I am immensely grateful, but still, seeing your dad on Grindr leaves a stain that no bleach can ever remove. There’s dirtiness under my skin, where before there was none, and I know, in my heart, that it will not leave me until the day I die.
I don’t know exactly what hideous nightmare this sadistic sex app will next rip from my consciousness and make manifest, but, based on some rough projections and extrapolations I’ve made, I have a couple of fun little theories.
Year 2: I see a man who looks exactly like myself show up on my feed. Tentatively, I message him. “lmao this is weird” I say. “Fraud.” He responds, and he continues, “Fraud and fraud and fakery. You sick pretender. You disgusting facsimile. I will come for you, imposter. Oh, believe me, I will come for you.” He blocks me, but for the next month, alone in my house I hear the sporadic tip-tap of soft footfalls outside, almost imperceptible but not quite so. In the stillness of night, when I pass a window I’ll catch a peripheral glimpse of a face that both is and is not my own. When I turn, it is gone. I no longer look in the mirror.
Year 5: I wake up, roll over, and log into Grindr. This is habit that has become instinct, and I no longer remember what life was like before this pox. Outside, smoke billows in thick plumes that fill the sky, and the soil, once rich and fertile, has turned to ash. When the app refreshes I’m greeted with the spiteful glares of everyone who has ever hurt me on my screen. They send me taunts and jeers and I sink, wordlessly, into the abyss.
If you’ve been on Grindr for longer than a year and had a wildly different experience (unlikely) and want to send me an angry email, do yourself a favour and maybe delete the app instead. Pop some bottles. Run yourself a nice bath. You’re welcome.
Words by Fred V. Jorgs