You may have read something about Grindr, the gay location-based "dating" app with over three million members, having been at work sabotaging gay culture and hookups at Fire Island and London this past weekend. But, as we found out, that isn't really the case.
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"Technicians believe the arrival of Olympic teams on Monday sparked a flood of new customers – and loss of the service in East London," wrote The People's Keir Mudie in a report that has been widely repeated and picked up in places like The Mirror. Mudie quoted one Londoner who said of the Grindr meltdown, "It happened almost as soon as the teams got here. Either loads of athletes were logging on to meet fellow Olympians or were looking to bag a local."
But hold up. We called up Grindr themselves and they told us that isn't the case. "While we'd love to believe that the best-built men in the world all dressed up in Lycra and congregating in one place can generate a huge increase in Grindr traffic, we can say with confidence that the arrival of the Olympic teams had little or no effect on our server," a Grindr spokesperson told The Atlantic Wire. "The truth is that there are many factors that cause a technological service disruption," he said, effectively shooting down Mudie's story. Furthermore, founder Joel Simkhai's apology blog post, though quoted liberally by Mundie, not once mentions the athletes of the London Olympics.
Nor was the Grindr outage caused by a particularly busy weekend for visitors to Fire Island, as New York's Thomas Rogers about the app's popularity at the gay weekend escape may have suggested. "Log in to Grindr on Fire Island, as you would anywhere else, and you’ll see a grid of 100 smiling faces and headless muscled torsos, a catalogue of men accessible from the comfort of your summer share’s living room." Rogers' piece seems to suggest that all those smiling faces and torsos are hurting the hookup culture at the "cruising" scene of the beach getaway, replacing it with iPhones, and ruining the promise of spontaneous sex that awaited those brave enough to wander through Fire Island's hookup zone, called The Meat Rack.
There are a few holes in Rogers' story as well. As one commenter on Rogers' story pointed out, "I love how they quote some queen at High Tea... THERE IS NO HIGH TEA THIS YEAR!!!" And Rogers includes ambiguous descriptions like this: "A few feet away, on the largely empty patio of the Blue Whale, a group of three men were busily typing on their devices next to the bar" and "... even the Meat Rack, the notoriously cruisy wooded area between the Pines and Cherry Grove, has been taken over by glowing iPhone screens," but didn't actually go up to those people to see if they were Grinding or simply checking their email or text messaging or tweeting or checking in on Foursquare or whatever else that seems to keep everyone glued to their phones all the time nowadays.
That's not to say that gay culture hasn't changed. And far be it from us to say if that change has been for the better or for the worse, but to blame everything on Grindr might be giving the app just a bit too much credit.