Dating / Apps / Sex & Hooking Up

#TheGrid2 Snippet: Grindr’s “Stat Culture”

As I come closer to finishing part two of my book The Grid: Lessons from the Men of Grindr, I wanted to share another snippet (since it is hard for me to write about anything else at the moment!) Here is a section on Grindr’s destructive “stat culture” – I know most of you who have ever been on the app will connect with this. I hope all of you will check out my full breakdown (and suggestions for fixing) “stat culture” when the book comes out.

…What I’m getting at, however, is that physical attraction almost always has to be there for a relationship to commence and succeed.  Where “stats” come into that discussion is that Grindr has taken an already cutthroat system of being judged on physical attraction and made it even worse.  Before, we would look at someone in life, perhaps appreciate some aspects of their physical appearance and find issue with others.  We would look at a photo or two, and sometimes be conflicted about whether or not someone was cute to us in just one photo, or all the time.  Perhaps we found them more attractive when they smiled, or when they were making a funny face.  There was some wiggle room, some interpretation – essentially, there was a chance for everyone to perceive others in a slightly thoughtful manner, given that judging others purely on appearance is already pretty brutal.  Enter Grindr and “stats.”  Suddenly, your physical appearance is coupled with baseball-card-like statistics on where you stack up in the gay universe.

Almost immediately, there is a fierce amount of judgment on who you are and what your “gay value” is.  There is an insane amount of focus on age, weight, and height.  Think about that – the three aspects of people that are, for better or worse unchangeable, are the three aspects that suddenly define one’s online worth.  Sure, pre-Grindr dating focused on these traits as well, but it was far less brutal.  For instance, most people wouldn’t really know the age of someone before speaking to them in a bar.  On Grindr, you are able to filter out a potential match based on some cutoff in your head.  “No one over 27 is going to work for me.”  Ok – did you just leave out the 29 year old of your dreams?  How would you ever know?  It doesn’t stop there.  Suddenly, below 5’10” is your arbitrary cutoff for height you’re interested in.  Are you telling me that in real life, if you were attracted to a guy across the street, you would be able to tell me whether or not he was 5’9” or 5’10”?  Then we get to weight.  Suddenly, 200 pounds is a bit too heavy for your taste.  Would you really be able to tell if the attractive barista at your local coffee shop is 190 vs. 200 pounds?  On Grindr, everything boils down to numbers and cutoffs.  Some people don’t even look at photos – they subconsciously skim your photo and get right to the stats.  It has become ingrained in us – it doesn’t matter how you look, the stats have to be desirable.  If your stats don’t match the Grindr-facilitated “dream player” they have created in their mind, you are out of the running – even if they think you are cute in your photo…

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