I was listening to the radio last week and heard one of the interns on OutQ mention a web site from which he'd been getting a lot of laughs, lately—douchebagsofgrindr.com.
Okay, perhaps I should've postponed sharing the address until I'd talked about the site, some. Are we all back? Settled down? Focused once more?
Grindr, of course, is the ubiquitous smartphone application that utilizes GPS to identify other Grindr users in the vicinity, so that one can cruise hot men from the comfort and safety of the H&M men's room. It's not really a comprehensive sex profile site. The owners allow one to post a PG-rated photo and a few words about oneself. After that, it's up to the users to message each other, decide if they're close enough, and to connect.
I avoided the app like the plague back in Michigan. In that state, the popular bar sport (any bar, any night) was for cliques of gay men to stand around with their phones glowing upward in the dark, illuminating the owners like some Georges de la Tour painting, while they giggled at men's Grindr photos. Woe betide the guy on Grindr who actually happened to be in the bar at the time, because the Grindr game turned packs of what I assume were fairly nice guys and turned them into gaggles of bitchy queens who sniggered and quipped wise as they compared the inevitable naked chest cheesecake shot on their phones to the somewhat embarrassed victim standing (according to the app, anyway) twenty-seven feet away. It's like watching a live enactment of Blondie's "Rip Her to Shreds." With Freddie Kreuger on had for a demo.
No thank you.
I gave Grindr a try last month, since it's taken much more seriously in the northeast. Quickly I found out that I only draw two types of Grindr responses. The first demographic would be shy older gentlemen who, instead of an actual face photo, opt to present themselves as a verdant landscape, a lighthouse in the mist, or a brightly sunlit waterfall. The second, and more abundant, population is that of barely-legal Latin boys, who purr and growl at me as if they're horny felines and I'm a big ol' sack of catnip-spiked chorizo. You'd think that instead of the bland profile I'd constructed, I'd advertised with Re-forming Menudo. Apply within.
Then my monthly subscription expired and I couldn't be bothered to download the free version, and I haven't used it in the last three weeks.
Now, douchebagsofgrindr.com struck me as a potentially fascinating website, because Grindr certainly does have its share of irritations. Foremost among mine were the men who would write something like, Here to look at the studs. If you're not one, block me so all I see are hotties. Like I want to do all that work for you? If you don't want to look at my face, block me yourself, fucker.
The site's administrators certainly zero in on some of the other most prevalent Grindr crimes of civility, take screen shots of the offenders, and present them to the public for mockery. They capture the men who brusquely insist that they will only speak to others with face photos, yet whose profiles show a murky shadow or a fuzzy close-up of a nipple.
The site rigorously chases after the racist profiles in which cruisers state, politely or less-than-, which colors of the rainbow can 'step to the front of the line.' The administrators have a special vendetta against the men who post handsome photos of themselves and state "VGL UB2," or that they'll only speak to other 9s and 10s. And god forbid you be one of the fools who dares to insist you're straight, and just looking.
It's kind of fun to look at the site and the silly men and their stupid antics and think to myself, "Yeah, that's guy's a douche, all right." But my mistake—and I make it on a lot of internet sites, admittedly—is that I feel compelled to read the comments on the photos from other readers. It's a mistake because whenever there's an anonymous comment system in place, there are always assholes who misuse it. They see an opportunity and a weakness and leap onto it in a way they would never, ever contemplate doing in real life; they type out vile things to which they'd never commit a syllable if it actually had to cross their lips and be uttered. I don't have a high opinion of these guys; it seems pitiful to me only to feel powerful when hiding behind the safety of miles, an anonymous comment box, and a computer screen.
Basically, it's ugly. And I find the site distressing to read, after a while.
So on any typical douchebagsofgrindr post, there'll be a couple of guys pointing out the obvious ("Wow! That guy is rude!"), and a whole lot of men dogpiling on each other to say the nastiest things possible. If a guy's handsome, he's 'not all that' or 'that dude looks like a girl.' If he's muscular, he's suddenly a steroid user. If a guy doesn't like feminine men, the commenters look for any sign of femininity (Are his eyebrows too neat? Is that a purse in the background of the photo? It must be HIS!) and engage in name-calling that makes the gay community's detractors seem timid-tongued in comparison.
The commenters rip on the men's clothing, their hair styles, their appearances, their teeth, their ages—anything they can find to shred the guy to pieces until there's nothing left. It's a little bit like the old Michigan Grindr game, only even more vicious.
And, in its own way, even more repellant than the profiles being mocked. Douches of Grindr these called-out men may be, but the commenters of douchesofgrindr.com are even douchier.
I'm curious about what you guys think. Do the commenters go too far on this website? Or is it all just good fun to you, with no one getting hurt? At what point does mockery and pointing the finger at hypocrisy and bad behavior turn into worse hypocrisy and an appalling spectacle of its own?
Let's discuss it in the comments.