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Since moving to New York from San Diego earlier this year, I have found myself engaged in several conversations with people on the phone application Grindr and also in person, about how they use the application.
Odd, I know, but I have been that struck by the differences, it comes up in conversation more.
For those of you not in the know, Grindr is an application for your mobile devices. Grindr describes itself as "the largest all male location-based mobile network tool for Android, iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and BlackBerry. It uses GPS technology to instantly locate guys in your area, [connecting] you via internet chat and sharing techniques."
One thing I've noticed, is that no matter where I sign-in and use Grindr, people continue to use the starter phrase "sup" across the nation. People seem to LOVE it! Maybe it is the advent of the touch screen, and typing "what’s up" is too much? Or maybe it makes people look more “macho” than they are?
Whatever the reason, since moving to New York, I have definitely noticed more differences than similarities with how people use Grindr, compared to my experience in San Diego.
Last weekend, while at dinner with a bunch of new friends here in New York – several of whom were originally from Southern California like me – I took it upon myself to ask them about the Grindr differences they have noticed.
Specifically, I wanted to know how they use Grindr here in New York, versus how they used it in Southern California or San Diego, in particular. I also wanted to find out how they thought other people who live out here might use the application, compared to how they use it in Southern California.
Together, we came up with 20 differences between New York and San Diego (and Southern California):
2. People seem to use more Emoji (the little emoticons) on their profiles in NYC.
3. More people use Grindr out in public, no matter the setting, than in Southern California.
4. NYC users found themselves "starring" more people – or adding more to their favorites list.
5. Users also found themselves blocking more people here without hesitation.
6. Although there seems to be more diversity with regards to ethnic backgrounds in NYC, the middle-aged, white male seems to dominate the Grindr scene.
7. Users have found themselves engaged in longer conversations here than ever before.
8. It seems people use Grindr at work more than in So Cal.
9. People are much closer in proximity, creating a more social network feel.
10. On average, users in NYC have more shirtless pictures.
11. There are noticeably more younger people (under age 20) on Grindr in NYC than in So Cal.
12. A lot of the NYC profile pictures look like glamour shots, rather than "normal," caught-in-the-moment kind of pictures.
13. Profile pictures also seem to reflect there are more "in-shape" users here in NYC.
14. The "catch-phrases" on NYC user profiles are much funnier than in So Cal.
15. People seem to be more willing to meet at all hours of the day in NYC.
16. In NYC, you will see the occasional woman on-line (on Grindr) – not kidding!
17. There are more free events to get into here using Grindr than in So-Cal.
18. People using Grindr in NYC are more interested in what you are looking for right away.
19. Users in NYC are not afraid to tell you to "buzz off" if you are annoying them, instead of just blocking you without explanation. Of course, blocking immediately follows!
20. There are more users identified as "traveling" or on "vacation" in NYC than most ever noticed before.
This is by no means an exhaustive list; nor is it statistically representative of all possible differences. Regardless, Grindr is noticeably different for the gay male population here in New York than in Southern California.
No matter the differences, Grindr has become a staple in a majority of gay men’s dating life, both here in New York and elsewhere. This fact is certainly also true in Southern California; however, my point in writing this piece is to exploit the differences of using the applicaitons in the two locations.
Regional differences do express themselves in on-line mediums, and Grindr is no exception. Based upon the list above, my friends and I have noticed several.
I would love to know what your take is. Please leave me a comment or two!
Thomas Hughes, Esq., was born and raised in San Diego. After attending college in Northern California, Thomas returned to Southern California in 2003 to obtain his law degree. He practiced criminal law as an openly gay attorney for nearly five years as both a prosecutor and criminal defense attorney. In late 2010, Thomas left the practice of law to pursue his dreams of teaching and traveling. In 2011, Thomas left for Changsha, China, to teach college students English. In addition, he joined Teach for America Corps to teach English within New York City. Thomas will be traveling extensively during these next three years, and sharing these adventures with a gay perspective, through his social column QueerVentures.