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NY MAG: Grindr Destroying Fire Island Social Life


New York Magazine reports that many are upset that the social hook-up app Grindr is destroying the social scene on Fire Island:

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. (Although cell-phone service on the island can be spotty, most houses are equipped with Wi-Fi.) The app has been called a “virtual bathhouse” and been pegged by some as a reason for the decline of the gay bar, but in a place like Fire Island, it may be especially destructive. Aside from the beach, a large part of the attraction of the Pines scene is the opportunity to rub shoulders, and maybe sleep, with attractive and powerful gay men. “Not long ago, you’d walk around here and everybody would be cruising each other, not anonymously, but face to face,” said Sal Occhipinti, a tanned 43-year-old, at a recent afternoon “high tea” dance party in the Pines harbor. 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. According to Occhipinti, even the Meat Rack, the notoriously cruisy wooded area between the Pines and Cherry Grove, has been taken over by glowing iPhone screens.

Fire Island's main social hub was also destroyed by fire last November, and has only been partially rebuilt.

UPDATE: Grindr sent us a response to the story.

Grindr makes it easier for gay guys to meet other gay guys. It’s a social ice-breaker, and we're confident it's having a positive impact on gay social life. Local businesses know and love Grindr. We partner with neighborhood bars and clubs around the world, and we receive great feedback from our partners. They tell us that our local promotions are driving local users to local bars. Everyone wins.
Even in a place like the Pines, it’s great to have the option to connect with just the kind of guy you're looking for rather than simply leaving it to chance. Like many gay destinations and resorts, the Pines isn't just all about meeting people but also about being with your community, being with your friends and going out to parties and attending events.
In most situations, technology has proven to be super-helpful. A guy might be too shy to approach someone at Blue Whale or another establishment. Grindr allows you to find guys you might not have encountered in your daily Pines life. It could be that neighbor you’ve never met -- the one you keep missing.
Grindr is never a replacement for real life, but it is a great tool to help you meet new people around the block, around the beach or around the world.

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  1. I don't get the problem...a social app is hurting the ability for gay men to do the same thing (hook up for anonymous empty sex) in person. This is a non issue.

    Posted by: Jaime | Jul 23, 2012 10:23:16 AM

  2. chacun a son gout. part of what my friends and i love about the trips out there is that our cellphones don't work and we're literally off the grid. i guess for some that's just not an option. oh well. not my mess.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Jul 23, 2012 10:25:59 AM

  3. Times have changed. Move on.

    Posted by: joe | Jul 23, 2012 10:37:36 AM

  4. Might be because there is literally absolutely nothing to do out there? It's got to be one of the most boring places on earth. Sure it's beautiful but that lasts all of about 20 minutes.

    Posted by: Truth Be Sold | Jul 23, 2012 10:38:43 AM

  5. Are you kidding me? Are we really upset because gay men can no longer hook up with anonymous men in parks due to Grindr? I actually felt embarrassed to be gay while reading this.

    Posted by: Mark | Jul 23, 2012 10:39:12 AM

  6. Ridiculous

    The social scene is dead out here because there's no Pavilion so people go to the Daniel Nardicio Underwear Party in the Grove on Friday then on Saturday, since nobody wants to dance in that fishbowl the Blue Whale, people either go to the Grove, go to bed early or go on Grindr.

    There has been Grindr for 3 years now and the social scene was not effected out here.

    Now that Sip N Twirl has opened things are picking back up in the Pines but it's a transitive year.

    Shoddy reporting at best

    Posted by: Christopher | Jul 23, 2012 10:41:16 AM

  7. This is a waste of an article. At least it was short!

    Posted by: Noah | Jul 23, 2012 10:44:25 AM

  8. At 54, I am too old for any of this to matter to me personally, but what prominent person is going to post their pics, especially semi-nude pics, on a public app?

    As with the meet-by-Internet sites, it seems to me that most of the people who are willing to post their photos are relatively low-status.

    And no, this is not about being closeted vs. being out......I cannot imagine that even an "out" individual who has a prominent position in society (i.e. a successful professional career) would want to participate in any of this, due to the cheesiness of it all......because of the embarrassment factor, convenience issues aside.

    Also, as a practical matter, is this really an efficient way to meet people? For those who use it, what percentage of the time does it actually result in meetings between two people? Is it not plagued by the same issues that the meet-by-phone options in the 90's were?

    Posted by: Rick | Jul 23, 2012 10:44:56 AM

  9. i don't have a problem with people knowing i'm on Grindr, but then again I've not cared what non-gay people think of me ever since I came out in my teens.

    Something more than a few grown-@ss wannabe-"men" could learn....

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Jul 23, 2012 10:48:16 AM


    Solid reporting, NYMAG

    Posted by: Christopher | Jul 23, 2012 10:48:47 AM

  11. Fire Island was over many years ago. It's pathetic. Grow up already. It's a bunch of men who refer to themselves as "boys" constantly cruising for that "perfect cock" that's going to fix the hole in their heart. They should spend more time in therapy wondering why they feel incapable of feeling intimacy towards anyone and anything except looking in the mirror and having narcissistic personality disorder. It's really sad out there. I sold my house years ago and have never been back. Good Riddance!

    Posted by: HARRY BALLS | Jul 23, 2012 10:49:29 AM

  12. Bravo Harry Balls.

    Posted by: Jaime | Jul 23, 2012 10:52:13 AM

  13. Why would I want to meet a guy that uses Grindr?

    Posted by: Jack M | Jul 23, 2012 10:53:24 AM

  14. @Harry Balls Is what you just described confined to Fire Island? It just sounds to me like a general description of what the vast majority of gay men are like. Very few, percentage-wise, ever form long-lasting relationships with other men, instead objectifying each other and having a long series of rather empty sexual encounters, while attaching themselves emotionally to their female friends rather than to men of any sort......

    And yes, this is all very well documented with empirical evidence......

    Posted by: Rick | Jul 23, 2012 10:56:20 AM

  15. "Also, as a practical matter, is this really an efficient way to meet people? For those who use it, what percentage of the time does it actually result in meetings between two people?"

    This isn't particularly complicated - if it's an efficient way to meet men for anonymous sex, then it will be used. If isn't, then other methods - which would be reported - would be used. Obviously it satisfies its user base enough that they noticeably use it to the exclusion of other methods.

    "This is a non issue."

    Yes, I'm not sure what we're supposed to mourn here, exactly. Well, I do recall that whenever someone dared to critique Fire Island, the requisite admonishment was that it was always about more than sex. Well, if Grindr is indeed destroying the social scene, then there wasn't really a substantive life to Fire Island beyond random sexual encounters.

    Posted by: Nat | Jul 23, 2012 10:59:14 AM

  16. Dear Harry Balls,

    if that's what you need to tell yourself to justify your own misery, by all means keep it up. wont' make your life better, won't make anyone else's life worse.

    i had my first visit to FI last year and it was actually a profoundly emotional experience for me. being in that magical place where so many of my brothers-who-came-before had been, the mists, the deer, the stars, the ocean, the energy.

    "boys" cruising for the "perfect cock"? what a sad experience you had. quite the opposite of mine. i think it says more about who you associated with, or WANTED to associate with, than it does about anyone else who goes out to the island.

    But for those of us who read Holleran, White, Mordden and others and always wondered if the island was as magical as it sounded, yeah it is. You just have to look with eyes not clouded with bitterness.

    p.s. stay in the Grove. way more friendly :D

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Jul 23, 2012 11:03:23 AM

  17. Fire Island is its own worst enemy, not some lame app.

    Posted by: Otkon | Jul 23, 2012 11:03:53 AM

  18. I've been going out to FI for years, p'town too. Like life, you get out of any place or experience what you put into it. Gorgeous beaches, nice people, available sex if that's your thing, peace and quiet. I can't think of a less contentious topic, but it leave it to us gays to polarize a trip to the damn beach!

    Posted by: Wbnyc | Jul 23, 2012 11:05:32 AM

  19. Rick,
    "Low status" sounds incredibly judgmental. I think more to the point succesful men are afraid to be linked to gay sites for fear of hurting their careers.

    Posted by: JC | Jul 23, 2012 11:07:47 AM

  20. Only in the rich developed world is a lack of dating/sex a problem. Try dodging bullets or wondering if you'll eat the next day. Now THOSE are problems to make even the most Macho Gay man cry.

    Posted by: Sargon Bighorn | Jul 23, 2012 11:07:50 AM

  21. Rick blathers: "Very few, percentage-wise, ever form long-lasting relationships with other men, instead objectifying each other and having a long series of rather empty sexual encounters, while attaching themselves emotionally to their female friends rather than to men of any sort......

    And yes, this is all very well documented with empirical evidence......

    Strange how the majority of men I know are couples, but maybe that is because I don't associated with self-loathing gay people who seem to be the only people Rick knows.

    Posted by: homer | Jul 23, 2012 11:12:37 AM

  22. Rick couldn't get f***ed if he fell @ss-first onto a cock factory.

    Trust the Closeted online-anonymity trolls to know firsthand about not being able to make connections with other gay males.

    us gay men who lead open and honest Out lives don't really have that problem.

    and trust a story about Fire Island to bring out the Bitter Betties.

    Sheesh. At some point you boys need to become men and realize that life is what you make of it - and clearly your way isn't working at all. Unless you're totes thrilled with being a miserable troll who lives vicariously through an anonymous online profile.

    me? i'll be sunning my @ss on fire island in 8 days. i'll tell the beach you said "Hi".

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Jul 23, 2012 11:13:18 AM

  23. Another thing about Grindr - there are those of us who want FRIENDS, not freaking hookups. 99.9999999% of the creeps on Grindr are looking for sex. Bars were a great place to find gays and people who can actually relate to you. Now one is likely to get punched in the face by asking random dopes on the street if they are. Meeting online v in person is vastly different. At least for me it's very awkward. Like getting into a random car.
    The gay hang outs and social avenues are disappearing.

    Posted by: chris255 | Jul 23, 2012 11:14:51 AM

  24. @JC "I think more to the point succesful men are afraid to be linked to gay sites for fear of hurting their careers."

    Same difference, but I think it goes beyond that. Don't you think there is something cheesy about running an advertisement as a way to meet people? I mean, would you seriously want your friends or family to see you on Grindr or on a website?

    Granted, it is harder for us as gay men to meet others--straight men can just assume that 95% of the women they approach are at least heterosexual, but we have to assume that 95% of the men we might approach and be attracted to are off-limits to us.

    One advantage of being able to congregate in large numbers in person, whether in gay bars or at other kinds of social events, was that, at least you know/knew that the guys there were "eligible" AND it allowed people to meet without "advertising" themselves all over a public space, where anyone, including co-workers could see them.

    That said, I have to respond to Chris255, who said: "Bars were a great place to find gays and people who can actually relate to you"

    Actually, Chris, it's funny that back in the heyday of the bars, which was my social heyday, the complaint I usually heard was that the guys who hung out in bars and discos were only interested in hooking up and that the only way to find guys who were interested in something more was to look elsewhere.

    Point being, that the issue is not and never has been the means of meeting that prevents gay men from having worthwhile relationships with each other--I think it is that, like straight men, they simply don't know how to be intimate with other men in a culture that teaches men to respond emotionally only to women.....and until that culture changes, I don't think things will improve......

    Posted by: Rick | Jul 23, 2012 11:29:24 AM

  25. It wont matter in a few years when Fire Island and most of the barrier islands of Long Island are washed away because of climate change. Enjoy your getting sand up your crack during beach sex now, ladies!

    Fire Island will soon share the same fate as the mangy FI deer who scavenge the trash, sifting through old poppers bottles and used condoms for a bit of food.

    Posted by: Gregoire | Jul 23, 2012 11:29:46 AM

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