Grindr: Malware of the gay community?

Grindr was launched in 2009 with the intention of being a social networking and online dating platform specifically for members of the LGBTQ community, showing profiles based on their vicinity to one another.[1] This description, however, could not be more wrong as nowadays it is used almost exclusively for the release of sexual tension, i.e., hookup culture for queer men. It was (and still can be) a way of discretely experimenting with homosexuality. Even though casual sexual encounters have been quite normalized in the gay community for decades (e.g., Hanky code and dark rooms)[2], this normalization might stem from homophobic societal tendencies, since these casual encounters are often the end point of homosexual relationships. Lack of ability to develop the relationship into a deeper connection often stems from internalized homophobia which causes the inability to fully accept oneself and therefore deeming themselves unworthy of a healthy romantic relationship.

Although people from the gay community can benefit greatly from such easy access, because it avoids the risk of a homophobic reaction for approaching another man in public. It could (and should) also facilitate the creation of homo-platonic relationships in areas where the expression of this sexuality is condemned. However, the digital nature of the application may also inflict damage to the user’s mental health for several reasons to be discussed in this blog post.

I would also like to mention that the following arguments can be found in any part of the internet. However, Grindr seems to be the meeting center for all these risks in one place. I would also like to state that Grindr is a hookup app, but many individuals still regard it as a dating app. The intention of seeking a meaningful relationship is a big cause for damaging one’s mental health because over time, they can be convinced that this is the standard for gay dating. Furthermore, my personal experience with Grindr in Italy, was more similar to that of an actual dating app and it was quite strange seeing such a difference here in The Netherlands. I suspect that this is also what creates confusion in other users in internationally populated areas such as Amsterdam.

Karl Marx and Alienation

Karl Marx describes his theory of alienation as “estrangement of people from aspects of their human nature as a consequence of living in a society of stratified social classes”.[3] He describes four types of alienation, of which, only two will be discussed here.
The first type of alienation I would like to discuss is the alienation from other people. This causes less contact, intimacy, and trust. Although a sexual encounter can be one of the most intimate forms of connection for which one needs to trust oneself and the other to achieve great satisfaction, nothing is less true if the encounter happens for the sole reason of releasing sexual energy. Many users prefer to skip small-talk and will interview the other for their sexual interests to see whether they are able to fulfill their sexual desires. This can cause problems when someone is not fully secure in their own selves and seeks validation by satisfying another’s needs.
This leads us to the second type of alienation, which is the alienation from ourselves. This alienation originates from “subordinating our internal demands we have imposed upon ourselves and not the external demands imposed upon individuals by other people”. [4] Meaning that personal boundaries will be crossed for the sake of granting satisfaction to the other person in the hopes of receiving validation from doing so. Continuous refusal of one’s own boundaries may lead to further lack of self-worth which in turn increases the previously mentioned approval seeking behavior.
The loss of self-worth can also result from altering oneself for the sake of receiving likes on social media.

Distorted view on intercourse

Not only can excessive use create complications with one’s self-worth, but it can also inflict an unhealthy relationship with intercourse itself. Not only within the person ignoring their own boundaries and needs, but also within the person who gets their desires met through this instant gratification. Due to the accessibility of these encounters through Grindr, users may start to view intercourse as having the purpose of fulfilling only of the participant’s wishes and needs, losing grip of the view it should be a mutual connection between the participants.
Furthermore, an excessive amount of these encounters may create a distorted view on romantic relationships as well. This distorted view may result in hypersexual tendencies outside of Grindr, manifesting itself in quickly steering conversations towards sexual match making even when the occasion does not call for it. These scenarios may also occur from watching an excessive amount of pornography.


While the possibility of remaining anonymous on the application grants the possibility for people who have not / are not able to come out of the closet to experiment with their sexuality, it also opens the doors for predatory behaviors. These behaviors can be witnessed by users stating they only want to encounter or even acknowledge a certain category of people. These users are typically called chasers. The term derived from “trans-chaser”, a person actively seeking out transgender people purely to be with a trans person and not because they are attracted to that person. The term is now more often applied to other “grindr-tribes” as well. One may excuse such behavior as just a sexual preference, but it not only does it reduce oneself to only their physical attributes, it also further encourages fetishization.

To conclude, while Grindr offers advantages to its users, they must be aware of the dangers of online hookup culture which include alienation from oneself, lack of a healthy sex life and predatory behavior. There are many other risks which have not been included in this post due to longevity and the necessity for trigger warnings.

Stay safe and release that sexual energy! 🙂

Footnotes & References:

[2] In case you want to know more about hanky code:
[3, 4]