The pit­falls and so­lu­tions to help you have a worth­while ex­pe­ri­ence

GA Voice - - Front Page - By PA­TRICK SAUN­DERS psaun­ders@the­

Whether you're in ac­tive pur­suit or avoidng the two: we take a look at how tech­nol­ogy, sex clubs, dis­abil­i­ties and dat­ing over 50 im­pacts LGBT At­lanta and more

Ly­ing. Ghost­ing. Per­sis­tent tex­ting. Lack of pic­tures. Racism (or just pref­er­ence?). Body sham­ing. If you use a dat­ing or hookup app like Grindr, Jack’d, Scruff or one of the many oth­ers on the mar­ket—and if you’re a gay man in At­lanta, then you most likely do—then you’ve ex­pe­ri­enced at least one of th­ese things. But how to nav­i­gate the world of apps in the face of such ob­sta­cles and still ac­com­plish what you set out to?

James Os­borne is a 35-year-old sin­gle gay At­lanta man who has mostly used Jack’d and Adam4A­dam for the last cou­ple of years. On a pos­i­tive note, he’s had a cou­ple of re­la­tion­ships and made some great friends through men he met on the apps. But ask him the neg­a­tives and he’s ready with a list off the top of his head, e.g., guys who aren’t re­ally look­ing for what their pro­file says they are look­ing for.

“I see that just about ev­ery day,” he says, laugh­ing. “It’s like ‘I’m look­ing for friends,’ but you’re not re­ally just look­ing for friends, or you’re look­ing for a re­la­tion­ship and it turns out you are in a re­la­tion­ship, or you say you’re ver­sa­tile on your page but you re­ally just like to bot­tom.”

Body sham­ing and what some would call racism but oth­ers would call racial pref­er­ence are other fre­quent parts of the dat­ing app ex­pe­ri­ence.

“I see a lot of ‘no fats, no femmes,’ I see a lot of ‘no blacks,’ or ‘strictly blacks only.’ I’m African-Amer­i­can and even within our race, you see ‘only dark-skinned’ or ‘only light-skinned,’ he says. “I’m not against any­one’s pref­er­ences, but if you’re look­ing for a date or a re­la­tion­ship you should be open to any­thing, be­cause you see the same peo­ple look­ing for the same things and they’re still on the site.”

Top three com­plaints and ad­vice

At­lanta sex and dat­ing colum­nist Michael Alvear has heard it all and then some when it comes to dat­ing and hookup apps. While he be­lieves that apps have be­come the pri­mary way that peo­ple meet, he has a caveat to that.

“I think they’ve be­come the pri­mary way of seek­ing mates, but I don’t think they’ve be­come the pri­mary way of ac­tu­ally get­ting a mate,” Alvear tells Ge­or­gia Voice. “I think most peo­ple who have been in a re­la­tion­ship for the last year or so have prob­a­bly have done it with­out the app.”

Alvear says that the three most com­mon com­plaints peo­ple have about the apps is ly­ing (about any­thing—stats, ap­pear­ance, what they’re into, what they’re look­ing for, etc.), ghost­ing (when you talk to some­body and they seem re­ally in­ter­ested, but then stop tex­ting you out of the blue) and per­sis­tent tex­ting. It’s this last one that Alvear says has been a re­cent trend in the last cou­ple of years.

“I’ve found that that has ex­ploded. That’s the guy who per­sis­tently texts you ei­ther through the app or if they get your phone num­ber, but ev­ery time you say ‘Let’s get to­gether,’ they beg out and say ‘Oh I’d love to but I can’t.’ And they never of­fer a next time,” Alvear ex­plains. “Why are you tex­ting if you don’t want to get to­gether? Why are you go- ing through all of this? Peo­ple have been ly­ing on apps for a long time, but you’re re­ally start­ing to see this idea that tex­ting isn’t ex­actly a method, but the end goal.”

Alvear chalks all of this be­hav­ior up to tech­nol­ogy and how it has re­moved the so­cial penalty for bad be­hav­ior, i.e. be­ing os­tra­cized or iso­lated or re­jected in a hu­mil­i­at­ing way.

“All of those things are gone. If you went up to some­body at a bar and said ‘Are you hung?,’ you might get a drink in your face or you might get bitch-slapped, or at the very least some­body’s go­ing to turn their back on you and you’re go­ing to be sit­ting there hu­mil­i­ated all along with other peo­ple see­ing you,” Alvear says. “So there’s no sense of so­cial sham­ing, which shapes be­hav­ior and creates a more pos­i­tive so­cial lu­bri­cant. But that’s not true with on­line—it not only ap­peals to the very worst in us but it en­cour­ages the very worst in us.”

There are now nu­mer­ous apps to choose from for what­ever and who­ever you’re look­ing for, but they all of­ten have the same down­sides.

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