Facing the Torsos

Scruff and Other Smartphone Hookup Apps Are the Future of Porn

Comments

1
That whole article really rung true but esp the first bit. I've always wondered what made guys think just because you aren't face to face that's a free ticket to being a rude c**t; wouldn't do that in a bar would we... Well there was that one guy; I should have lamped him!!

10 years of online BS drove me INSANE! It's just live porn to me now!

#SCREAMIN
2
Interesting POV. I am 50 years old, (real years, not gay years) I came of age in the bar and anonymous sex scene, before the internet. The behavior you say is a result of the apps is really not that uncommon. In the bar scene, back in the day, it was quite common to excuse yourself to "walk around" or "go to the restroom" when you got bored with someone, you just never came back to that person unless it got late and you got desperate It is also very common to give cues, eye contact, even say hello and someone not responding or just giving short answers that basically give the non-verbal response, "I'm not interested in you, go away" I've also seen people ask to see a dick and it was pulled out. In anonymous sex encounters in restrooms, sex clubs or adult bookstores, it was quite easy to ignore the ones you didn't want to and only focus on or chase the ones you wanted, very easy to ask to see cock, force yourself or push yourself into an encounter that was happening, you took the risk of being included or having one of the guys shake his head at you which basically told you to "go away".

Now maybe you never had that happen to you, or you never went to bars where that happened, but quite honestly, people are people and their behavior has not changed as they use the apps the same way. (In no way am I saying you are special or shielded from that behavior, we just came of age in different eras and you might not have the same experience as someone a bit older would have.)

I would not say the apps replace porn, because there is so much "free" porn that is available, but it has opened up that whole anonymous cruising world to a new group of people that never went out or see bars as something different now. I don't think the behavior of people is different in the apps versus the bars and bookstores of another era - It makes it easier, yes, because you don't have the face to face encounter you would have in a bar or sex club and there are soooo many more people that have access to the apps versus those that would risk going to a dark club anonymously. In that respect, I do agree with you that the apps do become a crutch and people forget that around them there are real people they can interact with. The apps become that safe zone where they can be their avatar and not have to put themselves out there on display to be rejected or ignored in person. It's not porn they replace, but personal interaction and teaching people how to actually have a real conversation and get to know someone. In all the bars, even with the rude people that would behave that way, there were still a few people here and there that wanted to talk to you and saw you as more than a piece of meat. I would say that the same thing is true of the apps, I have talked to many people that are after one thing, but I have also talked to a few here and there where we have a real conversation about something other than a dick pic.

I don't think the apps have caused changes in the way people interact, but they have made it easier to be impersonal and brought that mindset to a whole new generation of people that never would have known that existed.



3
I love you, Conner Habib!
4
Another way that grindr et al have changed pornography is its extreme accessibility. In a 5 minute bathroom break at work - heck, even when having a conversation with your boss, you have porn at your finger tips. I personally had to give up all that kind of stuff to deal with sex addiction problems but for people who can control it, more power to ya.
5
I live in the middle of nowhere where these apps are pretty much useless so I never got into them.
6
I know a lot of this already in the article a very long time ago! As a bisexual person,I tend not to frequent the gay bars,clubs and bathhouses,because it gets annoying and I am not the social type and very shy...however,I don't use a lot of gay apps because they are loaded with BOTS and fake accounts...(just check out craigslist for a example) and as for looking at your face,SKYPE is just as good as those sites...you can SKYPE TO SKYPE as much as you like and get to know the person more...I have a few sexy mates that I do that with all the time and I meet people from around the world...for example, I have a mate from Italy and one from Australia...
7
This is an interesting perspective, but I think that it is a case of "both/and" -- as often is the case. The apps have definitely changed the way we cruise in person (or don't!) and the social norms of the sex lives of gay men. But, you're right: there is a certain pornographic/masturbatory element to it. Clearly, not all the browsing on these apps is not meant to illicit a hookup every time; just witness all the "Just looking" profiles online.

It seems to me that the apps have created an intersection between increased masturbation and a broader gay social isolation in which gay men come to, say, San Francisco, and sit in their downtown hotel rooms cruising Grindr rather than go out in the Castro or SOMA. It's safer and more likely to yield whatever result one is after: the before-bed-jackoff or an actual hookup. I do think that this compartmentalization of gay sexy, though, is unhealthy. In person, guys now go out with their friends to even the old seedy bars, stay in their safe social circles, display about as much sexual energy as, say, a nun in the Vatican, then go home or back to their hotel and get on Grindr or another app and let the cruising begin. The art of in-person cruising/hooking up is largely lost.
8
To add to what Tazz602 said above, not only is the behavior Habib describes not all that different from the anonymous sex culture of yesteryear, it's also strikingly similar to what came between those days and the advent of apps: more than a decade of Internet chat rooms and hookup or dating sites, which is curiously absent from his analysis. The sexual consumerism, which the endless availability of porn on the Web has certainly played a part in facilitating, and the impulse to jack off and call it a night are if anything more extreme with hookup websites than with apps given that with the former one is likely to be more tied to a computer and therefore in a home or hotel room one is reluctant to leave.

Internet profiles also tend to be wordier and therefore more conducive to encouraging the kinds of personality fantasies Habib describes, and the comparative ease and speed of typing on a real keyboard allows for the possibility (though not the inevitability) of longer, more complex chats, for better and for worse. It's also worth noting that now that hookup websites often also have apps, it's easier for clashes of communication styles to occur between a chatty Cathy on a computer and a terse, typo-prone app user.

That said, I think the mobility and somewhat greater brevity associated with apps makes them somewhat of a bridge between bar/bathhouse hookup culture and hookup website culture. My experience is that hookup websites are more likely to involve endless negotiations and a need on one or more of the users' parts to know everything that's going to happen in advance, whereas apps sometimes allow a little of the spontaneity and mystery of bar hookups to return. Often (by no means always) there seems to be a little more willingness with apps to hook up with someone without needing total certainty as to how exactly how big his dick his or exactly what will go down.
9
Sure, I'll wear the Thor helmet when I fuck you.
10
Actually, you can choose how to behave on an app just like in a bar.

I turn to Scruff for hookups with nice guys, and mostly it works. I suggest these rules:

1. Always respond.
2. Be honest and respectful.
3. Post recent, clear pics showing face (no hat, no sunglasses) and body type. He's gonna see everything eventually, right?
4. FIll the profile with wants, not don't-wants.
5. Get to the point. Don't be non-committal.
6. Tell a guy if you're not attracted; don't make him "figure it out".
7. Be on the app for a right-now purpose.
8. Use the block button liberally and the favorites button strategically.
11
I got my start in the bar scene as well, and I think there are some key differences between the cruising that went on there and what you see in these apps.

First, the apps (both online and mobile) present themselves as greatly lowering the opportunity cost of hooking up. You don't have to spend a lot of time and money and effort to go out to a bar or bath that might very well be dead when you get there.

But it's a bit of an illusion. Inertia always takes over, because when it actually comes to meeting up with someone online, you're not invested in it...you haven't put forth the time, money and effort that heading to the bar requires. Easier just to stay home and jack off, which is what so many guys actually end up doing.

Second, online sites and apps create a kind of consumerist expectation of sex. You browse through Scruff like you browse through Amazon, looking for the guy you want. It creates a terribly selfish approach to sex.

Back in the days of barroom cruising, you'd have to have at least some interaction with the guy before you ended up leaving together. Now, that's minimized. And I'd point out that the duration of hookups has gone down immensely. Back in the day, it wasn't unusual for your guest to stay the night, maybe even go out to breakfast with you. Now people almost always leave as soon as the sex is over.

Third, and related to the first two points, there's the overabundance of choices online. It's a similar problem to what supermarkets run into if they offer too many kinds of mustard. As a result, you end up constantly cruising and never willing to quite make a commitment because that perfect guy could be the next one to sign on.

Bars actually had a great way of overcoming this problem. First, most bars were too small to hold more than a fairly small number of potential hookups to choose from. And then, they also had that absolute cutoff at last call, which provided an incentive to choose someone before that happened. This typically led to all of your options being on the table by about 10 or so, followed by a mad dash around midnight (assuming a 2 AM close).

Fourth, I wonder too if part of this is the idea of HIV/AIDS getting deeply internalized by the gay community. There was also something a little exciting/scary about hooking up with someone you don't know very well...might this seemingly normal guy be a Jeffrey Dahmer? But HIV added a whole new dimension of risk to sex.

What the online apps might offer is sort of the apotheosis of safe sex: you get some degree of human interaction in the form of sexting and sending X-rated pics back and forth, but you cut out all the risk (and, let's be honest, a lot of the excitement) of actually hooking up.

Look at what @6 said above: cruising online allows for the wussification of gay sex.

To be honest, I haven't really seen much evidence that the phone apps have really changed the online experience that much, at least not in the ways they promise. Both really offer the fantasy of sex, rather than the sex itself. That's pretty much the dictionary definition of porn.
12
Why headless shots on apps?Let me educate Ya'll. I encountered this issue many times,theres a reason why people don't want to put their mug shots for public view.Majority of gays have a nasty habit to save pictures that you share with them and in some cases you encounter your own photos posted on craigslist or other websites or your friends will tell you that they received your photo from someone else or someone you don't know or never seen before starts talking to you at the mall like they knew you for a while.Reality sucks,there are different people out there,some are good, some are not.Some have issues and some have complexes,some-just want to play pranks or just have an urge to discuss with or show your photos the next day to coworkers and friends.It's not right to be judgmental, and I hate to be one,neither I want to be judged.My suggestion is- do not share Your face photos if you are not sure who is on the other side of the line and remember that not everyone take these apps and websites seriously.