Grindr and the objectification of man.
How dating apps are commodifying sex, love & romance.
Love is often presented as something mystical, of combusting sensations in transient circumstances. An astrology elusive in its content and contingent on relationships; transcendent over any image of communalism as it pairs up subjects into divisions of monogamous exclusivity. The pigeons that dance upon slate and chimney pots parade their plumage, guttural call summoning peers for the public display of affectionate feathers. For every dejected bird there are many others triumphant in their visceral conquest.
Like the pigeon, we inhabit limited pools of disparate groups, seeking love through friendship, through the observation of plumes and parades, of subtle character traits and nuanced personalities. We discover genuine people through established social codes, bound by concerns for decency, with the humiliating spectre of failure constructing the final hurdle to gratification. In vaulting this hurdle, there was an element of risk: our foot is caught and we fall momentarily, losing control of oneself and one’s direction, totally vulnerable — falling in love and being dependent on the subject to catch you in his reciprocation. This is the definite beginning of a romantic relationship: when one decides to vault the hurdle we must wait to be caught.
Dating-apps topple this hurdle. There is no ‘risk’ for we are in total control as we walk into love: we do not fall, we stride. The anarchic chaos of the internet removes the expectations of convention and boundaries, allowing the unhindered expression of the ‘true-self’ — the pure essence of man when freed from his conditioning. The ‘core’ of a person is exposed, no longer an aggregate social construct of the norms and expectations of society, but a deconstructed and wholly pure representation of the self. A Romantic image, but one impregnated with unrestrained animalism now liberated by the distance between screen and subject: a thirst for inconsequential sex and gratification.
Grindr is one amongst many platforms facilitating this activity: men construct profiles to meet men and have sex. These ‘profiles’ are not fake personas and adopted identities but, in this anarchic environment, they are true expressions of the self, driven by sex and the need for immediate satisfaction: a position vindicated in the fulfilment of this true self in explicit sexual action in the flesh.
How is it the case that a man can have several sexual partners, in a limited time frame of a few months, while maintaining a relatively small group of associates? Grindr enables the pooling of ‘stock’ and vanquishes the looming spectre of shame for a failed advance — it topples the hurdle. Like browsing Amazon, Grindr presents the user with the foundational ‘core’ of the self, the ‘true-self’ neatly packaged with a few images: there is no need to ‘discover’ a person by probing through the layers of social convention, prejudices, social conditioning etc. The ‘true-self’ is exposed naked (sometimes literally) for the consumption of the user, who simply responds in the binary: yes/no, attractive/not-attractive, want-to-fuck/would-rather-not. Users consume one another, responding to hundreds of ‘true-selves’ with a linear response; this is the commodification of man, by man, for man. There is no risk for the anonymous user. He need not expose himself, make himself vulnerable, for this is a ‘win-win’ prize-every-time operation: the winning combination of ‘yes-yes’ begins a communication between the two users, with neither losing face through the possibility of failure.
Man is distanced from his own ‘true-self’, which remains isolated in the virtual world of the internet. The Self in it’s totality: the ‘core’ upon which is constructed an aggregate social ‘self’, knows that the isolated true-self lacks something — the weight of conditioning — the lens by which the light of the ‘core’ is refracted into the spectrum of recognisable character. Without this lens, man cannot recognise his true-self, he is alienated from it through the medium of the online profile, flippantly commodifying it as a means to a sexual end. The isolation of the true-self as without social conditioning is a source of the alienation of man from himself, and the commodification of that self as an object for achieving sex or relationships.
Without the lens of social conditioning, you cannot truly know how the light of man’s true-self will refract, and what colours will define their character.