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The Trials and Tribulations of Mobile Dating Apps

Despite the fact that my main profession revolves around technology I have never been a big tech nerd. While I can navigate through any software, program, application and many games thrown at me, for the most part I’m not really one to ride the wave of modern technology. This has never been so blatantly true as when it comes to cell technology. For YEARS I avoided buying a cell phone and when I finally broke down to purchase one I remember the customer representative behind the counter asking me if I was looking for a phone with more data or more space or specifically for gaming or social media, or how about one with high pixels for crystal clear pictures and other assorted features. When she finally quieted down I distinctly remember looking her in the eye and saying, “I’m looking for a phone that makes phone calls?” I wound up getting a Pay-As-You-Go phone that was smaller than an Altoid tin. And yes, all of my friends and family ridiculed me about it. Nevermind. It made phone calls. That’s all I really cared about.

Fast forward almost a decade and I am the proud owner of an actual iPhone. By this time, mobile social dating apps are all the rage. I’m familiar with terms like Grindr, Growlr and Jackd but none of those were available to me when I was the proud owner of my “Play-Skool” phone or the Crackberry I had at one point. And while I had a slight curiosity to see what the fuss was all about, I was also smack dab in an all-consuming relationship that trumped anything that any app could possibly provide. Though I was curious, I never did download those apps. Though I remember when my partner, who lived out of state at the time, came to visit me and said that when he checked his own Growlr account, that my neighborhood was filled to the brim with gay men that were 0.01 miles away, we laughed whole-heartedly until I realized… he still has Growlr on his phone. Tragic foreshadowing.

Fast forward another two years. I’m single. I still have an iPhone. I have downloaded more than a dozen dating apps. At this point what I can tell you is that as far as being in a relationship or being single is concerned, the grass is always greener on the other side; having been on both sides of the fence I can attest that all people in relationships at one point or another secretly fantasize a single life and all single people fantasize about settling down and at the end of the day no one is really better than the other. But I can also attest, being on this side of the fence, that single people have a little extra shit to fertilize our lawn with… those goddamn dating apps. Who knows if it will help us grow at all, but my God there is a lot of shit around.

For those not in the know, a mobile dating app is a little program you download onto your phone that allows you to connect (sexually or otherwise) with other people. There is a really good chance that unless you have been living in an underground bunker for an extended period of time and/or are Kimmy Schmidt you know exactly what a mobile dating app is. Things are slightly different when it comes to gay mobile dating apps. While all apps have their specific branding and flavor, all effective gay mobile apps should be able to give you at minimum six key pieces of information about men in your immediate vicinity:

Age Race Sexual Position Preference (Top or Bottom) Height Weight Profile picture

The ongoing debate is how effective these dating apps are in creating and nurturing long lasting relationships. While I personally know of some pretty envious and significant relationships that started using those apps, I can’t necessarily say that I’m hopeful for the same result. A case could be made that I say this out of a sense of bitterness or resentment but it’s probably more out of fear of being let down. Again. There really are only so many times someone can look you in the eye, tell you that you are the air that they breathe and their soulmate only to find that they were simultaneously plotting on having a train run on them before you question the idea of “soulmate” and what does it mean, and do any of these 26 y/o, African American, Versatile/Bottom, 5’10”, 255lb men with a picture that only displays their lips or a single eyeball really know what a “soulmate” is or any of the work involved in nurturing a relationship with one?

I definitely play the mobile social dating app “game” with a sense of trepidation and humor. I just don’t take it that seriously and if by chance my soulmate just happens to be on there, I’m pretty confident that he doesn’t take it that seriously either so I don’t really bother with over extending myself or giving premature heartfelt platitudes. He’s uncomfortably laughing at my bullshit profile that same way I’m uncomfortably laughing at his. And I imagine we’ll find each other because we know it’s kind of inconsequential what age, race, sexual position, height, weight we are or what we look like (but thank God we’re African American and fucking hot.)

But in the meantime, yeah… it’s sex. It’s sex. And considering the current pro-slut shaming society that we are in, there is a huge demographic that demeans all those mobile dating apps as vehicles to depravity, salaciousness and lechery… but those people aren’t getting laid so I don’t really pay attention to them. What I do pay attention to is my own needs, my own common sense, my own history, and the amount of condoms, lube and poppers in bed stand drawer. If this is going to be sex, it’s going to be good sex. And while I am a firm believer that all sex, even a one night or an anonymous 30-minute stand, is a transfer of energy and the creation of a bond, it’s not superglue. It’s not marriage. It’s just sex. You create that electricity and that light is awesome. And then you turn it off. And then you go home.

I’ve recently taken to posting transcripts of some rather interesting conversations I have had on a couple of mobile dating apps. These conversations usually involve young men overestimating that electricity, assuming my outlets are dry and that I am in dire need of their plug, or that I stick my plug in old outlet. And while I have been criticized for ridiculing this handful of guys, it’s only a microcosm of the conversations that I have had; there have been dozens of unpublished conversations where questionable men of all ages have asked to be my son, my daddy and yes… even my soulmate. And I hate the idea that I’m standing in judgement of them all in my ivory tower dismissing them with single hand stroke, flicking them away, but I guess that I’m just not convinced that any of them wouldn’t plan to have a train run on them too if given half a chance. Or that as a soulmate, how hot I actually think it would be if they were honest with themselves and share that fetish with me. I’m not convinced Mr. 26 y/o, African American, Versatile/Bottom, 5’10”, 255 lb with a picture that only displays their lips or a single eyeball is ever going to be that honest. History has shown me that he’s not. But I also have friends who never thought in a million years that I would ever own an iPhone. So stranger things have happened.

Feel free to laugh uncomfortably here... and give me a call.

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