I spend a lot of time on Grindr, not for recreational uses but for more scholarly pursuits. Through my research online in many gay digital spaces, I have noticed trends in the ways that gay men are presenting themselves online and how their online identities are operating through many media, Grindr being my favorite. Although there will of course be people who do not fit into the five boxes listed below, I'm sure that if you open up your Grindr app, you will be able to spot these five types. Think of this like a crossword puzzle, but more interactive.
1) Mr. Abdomen
Mr. Abdomen is the Abercrombie & Fitch model of the digital world that is Grindr. His body is chiseled, and he is usually found taking pictures of himself after, showering, working out, or showering after working out. Mr. Abdomen will not show you a face pic, initially; that takes time, time that is filled with lots of vapid, two-word messages like "hey bud" and sharing photos of one another's genitals, or assumed genitals. (Tip: To help figure out if your Mr. Abdomen is showing you his "real" genitals, do a comparison of belly buttons; that can usually help you figure out if this is actually Mr. Abdomen's genitals or not.) His "About Me" area likely states that he's looking for "masc" men who are fit, but wait until 3 a.m., when Mr. Abdomen is coming home from his chosen late-night entertainment, and that will change, and you, too, will have your chance with the faceless Adonis who will be "bored" or "chilling" in bed. But remember, there may be reasons beyond discretion that Mr. Abdomen doesn't show his face, so be cautious.
2) The Traveler
The Traveler just happens to be visiting that day and is in dire need of meeting up because he's lonely or needs someone to show him the city. (Side note: Lonely is code for "let's get naked.") His "About Me" section will always say, "Visiting from [insert city that I'm probably not from here]," and his profile picture will be of him doing something very exciting, like boating, cooking, or standing on a beach, in order to prove his transitory status. The Traveler, due to being a digital gypsy of sorts, has a high probability of being closeted and married with children. Be advised that the Traveler is often the most persistent in communication and will very uncomfortably walk the line between friendly and cyber-stalker until you press that red X button that blocks him. Press it. You will forget about Mr. Visiting from Springfield soon enough.
3) The Bust
Arguably the most popular Grindr person you will meet is the Bust. He gets his name from using head-and-shoulders shots as his profile picture. There are a few different personality types within this group: the Liar Bust, the Flasher Bust (he sends a penis pic in first message), the LTR Bust, the Stalker Bust, and the Bust in Sunglasses. The Bust is the person who doesn't feel comfortable showing his full body on his profile and instead uses his facial features to draw you into a conversation, with various salutations like "hi," "hey," "sup?," and "looking?" The Bust is the most flexible of the people you will meet on Grindr and will sometimes change personas depending on the time of day, his location, and his level of sexual frustration, maybe even changing into Mr. Abdomen for a few hours late at night.
4) The No-Face
The No-Face is comparable to the creepy homeless man who is always hassling you to buy some obscure object while he stares at your body as if you were a piece of meat. The No-Face will usually start the dialogue with a compliment that makes you feel like you were just cast in the upcoming production of Showgirls 2, calling you "hot" or "sexy" or just flat-out saying "dayum," but these compliments bounce off you and, for some reason, make you feel worse about yourself. The No-Face will never, ever, ever, ever send you a photo, due to various reasons: he has an iTouch, he doesn't have camera accessibility, his camera is broken, or he needs to be very discreet. The No-Face will rarely have any information listed, and don't be surprised if he opens his first message to you with the street intersection at which he is located and a dollar amount, which we can all assume is how much he will pay for "hanging out."
5) Your Boss
Yes, that's him, so stop pulling up your company's photo directory and comparing this Grindr picture of him shirtless with the picture of him in a suit on your company's website. Take a breath, take a screenshot, and then decide whether to send a friendly "hello" his way or block him and pray to God that he didn't see your profile picture of you shirtless in the office bathroom. The Boss is one of those Grindr profiles that gets you incredibly excited, as if you just hit the lotto, or terribly scared, because now he can favorite you and see if you are cruising Grindr during business hours, which will lead to a very uncomfortable meeting in his office. Be careful, be cautious, and make sure you don't circulate that photo on an office computer; you could get fired for looking at "pornographic" images while on the clock. (Note: The Boss can also be a regular co-worker; it works both ways.)
This post was originally published on the Thought Catalog here.
Follow Zach Stafford on Twitter: www.twitter.com/zachstafford