I can't quite believe I'm saying this but next year marks my 25th anniversary as an out and proud gay man... It feels like yesterday, but a lot has happened in the last two and a half decades that has made me thankful that I'm not 19 again, despite the perception that things are now a lot easier for young gay men and women.
When people have been asked why they use these apps, the most popular answer as for one-to-one sex - A positive message when you're looking for love - the second most popular answer was out of boredom - Both use of apps are confusing if you're already in a relationship and apparently 'happy' , which draws me to the question, Are we addicted to dating apps?
The word "tradition" is so often misunderstood to mean the dragging heels of a conservative past, whereas modern traditions actually include our calendar customs such as Halloween and April Fools, our music and dance, our games and sports, almost all the foods we eat, the stories we tell, and so much more.
Ah, who doesn't love a social media trend? Especially when it gives some thought to linguistics. We've recently gone mad for apps designed to help you interact with strangers, incidentally all suffixed with an 'r'. Meet Tinder and Grindr's new, potentially more terrifying cousin, Cuddlr. DUN DUN DUHHH.
It's no secret that gay men and women grow up with a sense of separation from their heterosexual peers, and that this anticipates their exclusion from mainstream culture, especially that of mainstream dating. And fittingly enough the emotionally sterile climate encouraged by Grindr is to the gay man what a crack den is to the heroin addict...
I get the feeling that he's typing one-handed, so decide now's as good a time as any to go into silent mode. He gives it one final go. "I shaved today," he says. I see the email has an attachment: a photo, which I open. Yes, he's shaved all right. Everywhere. Instead of a smooth chin or chest, I see gleaming genitalia - Spam-pink with sensitivity and not a hair to be seen...
I heard murmurings of a new dating app called Tinder. Someone had dressed it as "Grindr, but for straight people". Now, for all of you who don't know, Grindr is - in my limited knowledge - an app that uses your location to search for potential mates that are in your area. You make contact. You agree to meet. You agree to meat.
Hugo produced his phone from under the table and displayed his previous conversation with the apparent Ollie Locke... I couldn't believe it. I had been cloned. Somewhere out there is a man pretending to be me to get laid or to meet his soul mate. Little did he know, obviously not having read my book, that being me does not often grant access to getting sex regularly.
Being literate and enjoying full sentences can be something of a barrier on Grindr. While all those little avatars of six-packs claim to be erudite grammarians, it seems nobody is safe from that dreary "hows u??" or "heyyy mister". So when I hear that magic ping and see a headless torso wishing me "a very good afternoon, handsome" I am intrigued, interested.
Everywhere I turn there is a clock reminding me how late my date is. Late, late, late. I can't look at my wrist any more, above the bar is off limits, and outside, a clock tower looms in my eyeline. And just to serve as one more reminder, even the barman's wonky eyes are positioned at ten to two. I roll my own baby-blues and go back to studying my rapidly draining pint glass.
We're living in a funny old age. Much like every generation of teens and twenty-somethings before us, we're pretty convinced that we've invented sex. Despite our natural reverence for the past, we look back on our parents era, and their parents, and so on, as quaint... what they definitely did do, however, was fuck. Lots of extra-marrital fucking.
One of the many things they forget to tell you when you try online dating is that you have to pick a 'name' for yourself - a handle for your profile. Yes, not only do you have to fret about whether your pictures make you look pretty or the quality of your babbling blurb, you also have the added trauma of coming up with a profile name.