NY MAG: Grindr Destroying Fire Island Social Life

FireIsland_grindr

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.

Comments

  1. Jaime says

    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.

  2. says

    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.

  3. Truth Be Sold says

    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.

  4. Mark says

    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.

  5. Christopher says

    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

  6. Rick says

    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?

  7. says

    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….

  8. HARRY BALLS says

    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!

  9. Rick says

    @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……

  10. Nat says

    “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.

  11. says

    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.

    http://littlekiwilovesbauhaus.blogspot.ca/2011/07/my-first-trip-to-fire-island.html

    p.s. stay in the Grove. way more friendly 😀

  12. Wbnyc says

    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!

  13. JC says

    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.
    JC

  14. Sargon Bighorn says

    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.

  15. says

    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.

  16. says

    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”.

  17. chris255 says

    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.

  18. Rick says

    @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……

  19. Gregoire says

    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.

  20. jamal49 says

    Pardon me while I don’t shed any tears for the “destruction” of the social life of Fire Island, that generally exclusive enclave of mostly rich, white, prick-@$$hole, gay men.

  21. says

    OMG a gay business that’s successful. First nothing will ever replace meeting someone in person. Don’t you still meet the person at the bar if your introduced via Grindr? This was a stupid article. Who wants to go to bar any way. This is just noise from where there is no news.

  22. Rick says

    Gay men can’t form relationships with other gay men because they hate being men and wish they were women because they worship lady gaga.

    And I can’t form relationships with other gay men because no other man will compare to my father who was the best lay I ever had. So I come here, everyday.

  23. johnny says

    @kiwi, those of us who have grown into men have left places and situations like Fire Island behind long ago and are quite satisfied with our stable lives as they are now, owning businesses, owning homes, living full lives.

    The only delusion is the one you are creating for yourself, i.e. that you are a “man” because you’re OUT with a URL to prove it. Wow. With the language you use and the attitude you give currently, you’re at best a catty little 12-year-old girl.

  24. DANNY says

    Now we know why Rick is so bitter, he can’t get any action, so he has to blame the “effeminate gay male” for everything. I’m surprised he didn’t blame this on them!

  25. Michael says

    Geez, this place is like a gay bar. You have the old bitter man, Rick, sitting at the bar by himself moaning and grunting about how lame everyone and everything is yet he still comes to the bar every day, then there’s the guy, Kiwi, who, depending on the phase of the moon is either fun and insightful or just kinda grumpy, then there’s the guy, Jimmy, who is a blast to get drunk with….

    If u don’t like Grindr then don’t f’n go on it.

  26. says

    @Johnny, if that were true you’d be silently moving on and allowing the next generations to enjoy what you previously enjoyed.

    alas, we have a bunch of guys whose online-avatars are clearly venting about feeling left out of the party.

    go enjoy the homes you own that you paid for with the businesses you own. and remember to volunteer and donate to help all those who don’t have the opportunity to own homes and businesses due to your own white-privilege.

    werk.

    😉

    *elegant curtsy as only a 12yo girl can do*

  27. ratbastard says

    @Little Canadian,

    You are one funny dude.

    How many gay and bi men live the part circuit, fire island lifestyle? How many percentage wise of the total gay and bi population? How many gay and bi NY’ers cruise Fire Island?

    This is a non-issue for most gay and bi men who don’t cruise [or troll] Fire Island, Provincetown, etc. or troll the gay party circuit.

  28. ratbastard says

    @Jamal49,

    +1

    You got that right, Jamal. Although in fairness, there are pr*ck, a**hole guppie-type black, Hispanic and Asian homos there too.

  29. says

    i don’t do the party circuit. i do, however, enjoy a nice lil vacation with beaches, gays, lesbians, good food, camaraderie and magical mists off the ocean. just because you’re on fire island doesn’t mean you’re doing any of the things these miserable trolls just listed – and ten bucks says y’all aint never even been.

    stop being upset that other people are out enjoying the sun and surf and life and you’re at home on your computer making up stories about how “blacks” killed your father.

    hating FI and the people who go there won’t make your own life better. but if venting about it online stops you from pulling a sylvia plath in your own oven, then hey, by all means keep it up.

  30. Rick says

    @Michael Actually, the anger my observations tend to provoke are a reflection of the bitterness of the people expressing that anger. And what they are angry about is that I am exposing the truths about their lives, truths that are painful and that they will go to great lengths to avoid having to face…..and one of their means of avoiding having to face them is to attack those such as myself when we hold the mirror up to them.

    That they, themselves, are profoundly unhappy people is evident from the vitriol that they spew at me.

    The funny thing is that the only way they will ever find happiness is to acknowledge the truth of my observations and change themselves and gay male culture (and the male culture generally) accordingly.

    Even funnier is that the impetus for this change is coming–quite amazingly–from straight men, while gay men continue for the most part to languish in the tired old culture of the past…..

  31. badlydrawnbear says

    The internet took out the leather social scene first and now is killing the gay social scene in SF.

    The one group that seems to be embracing the technology but still has an active social scene are the ‘Bears’.

    But I couldn’t tell you why.

  32. Rick says

    I like to lie online about being masculine because I never really felt like a real man. Especially because my father made me dress up in blackface drag whenever we’d have sex, and that’s because stereotypical effeminate queens made him think that just because I wanted to fellate him it meant that I wanted to be a woman. I hate you femmes for making my dad think he had to dress me up like a girl when we had sex. It ruined the experiences for me!
    He would never hug me or say anything loving or affectionate, and our times together when he’d have sex with me were ruined by having to dress in frilly dresses. And I HATE frills!

  33. badlydrawnbear says

    Andrew Sullivan recently profiles how social apps are killing the NYC gay scene as well. The overall number and relative sizes of the gay bars in NYC has declined dramatically.

    Gay clubs in NYC used to be able to hold thousands of men, now they hold hundreds as more and more men cruise from the comfort of home, or even while out at dinner or small parties and make arrangements to meet up at someone’s home, after the meal.

  34. Rick says

    Would you kindly stop insulting my father Little Impostor? He was a great man and the best lover I ever had. You are mocking what was a very satisfying relationship between us. It was like Deliverance, only with fewer teeth.

  35. endo says

    Rick’s little diatribes he likes to post here are eerily reminiscent of the types of manifestos written by people like James Holmes, Ted Kaczynski, and Anders Breivik.

    He fancies himself a misunderstood genius railing about truths only he knows in direct contrast to a vast majority, but the real truth is he’s just another psychopath.

    We will never know Rick’s real name because he’s too afraid that if he posts it, it will become quite clear he doesn’t live up to his own standards. But you can be certain that one day when an angry gay psychopath goes on a violent rampage involving women and effeminate men, Rick’s postings here will stop.

  36. Kevin says

    And yet, regardless of the availability of Grindr, I much prefer meeting guys (for hooking up, friendships, or any other reason) in person first, completely unaided by technology.

    The anxiety of “the big reveal” — when you open the door on the stranger you’ve just invited to your apt/hotel room — is far worse to me than the “hassle” of getting my ass dressed and out to the bar where I can have a natural conversation with someone first.

    I’ve only ever done random Grindr hookups once or twice, and in both cases I was extremely drunk and, in retrospect, exhibiting terrible judgment.

    It doesn’t replace the traditional methods, is all I’m saying.

  37. Graphicjack says

    I actually agree that Grindr is too much of a good thing. Like most things, it has good points and bad. Yes, it can make things somewhat easier in terms of hooking up with someone. However, by putting ourselves in an online virtual environment versus a real one, we turn dating and cruising into online shopping, where we become products to consume, and we judge ourselves by our “covers”. We also, as has been noted, destroy our bar scene, Villages and communities, that we built up and created against a hostile society. Yes, society is changing and sure, bars can suck and be depressing at times, but we also lose a sense of comradery and community, and miss out on mixing with all sorts of people who could become friends, lovers or partners. I’m not saying we all need to ban Grindr, but I think we do need to shut it off sometimes and engage in the real world. This applies in Fire Island, SF or NYC, or whatever small town you may live in. Ironically, these apps that can bring us together can also make us more isolated and lonely than we ever thought.

  38. Rick says

    @Little Kiki

    You’re totally wrong about me not going to FI. My father used to take me there when I was a teen. He would dress me up as Little Orphan Annie, take me to the hardcore sex clubs, then tie me up and give me oatmeal enemas. The lumpier, the better.

  39. says

    I read the article this morning and it struck me as one more instance of NY Mag trying to sound in-touch with the NYC gay scene wi which it is hopelessly out of touch. The Pines pick-up scene is relatively vapid and shallow to begin with – not judgin’, just sayin’ – but I don’t see Grindr as much of a threat towards making it more so.

    Speaking of vapid and shallow, checkout my new novel!
    Man*hattan: a fairy tale
    http://amzn.com/B008IXE5DO

  40. Bradley Simon says

    Love Fire Island. Think all cell phones should be put in a lock box upon entry of your share and not given back until you leave. I remember a time before cell phones (yes, I’m OLD!!). It was all about trading what little information you heard from main land (most, didn’t have TV’s and radio listening had already died out). We’ve moved into an era of wide-open isolation.

  41. ratbastard says

    @Little Canadian,

    He was jumped and shot by a group of young black males. Sorry Little Canadian, but it’s true. And yes, he died from it.

    Grow the F up. You are so lucky to be talking trash 600 miles from me. I can’t believe you haven’t had your share of well deserved beatings.

  42. BEAHBEAH says

    “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?”

    Have you ever used Grindr? There are some shirtless pics, but the vast majority of them are simply face pics. Grindr screens all photos before posting them and deletes anything lewd. And what do you mean by prominent exactly? Are you looking for Donald Trump on an app? Then no. But respectful, successful gay men? Yes. I live in Pittsburgh, and all of the high power gays are on there.

    “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.”

    What world are you living in, haha? Do you know the large percentage, both gay and straight, of relationships formed online these days? Online dating isn’t looked at as taboo by the younger generations. It’s par for the course for a lot of us.

    “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.”

    Again, what world are you living in, haha. Every gay person and most of the straight people I know have an online profile somewhere. The intentions are all different, hookups vs. dating, but again, the online taboo is not there for younger people.

    “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?”

    Very effective. At least for me its been. I’ve actually met some of my best friends through Grindr and also dated some very nice guys. Who were not “low status” as you put it. It can definitely be used as a hookup device, and it’s incredibly effective as that, but it’s not what all of us use it for.

  43. Joseph Singer says

    I’m not surprised at all. Ever since the iPhone came into existence and all the other smartphones that followed people bury themselves in phones and don’t bother with anything else around them. You can’t have a chorus rehearsal without someone whipping out their smartphone between numbers or texting during movies or plays. It’s an addiction.

  44. FunMe says

    Things will always change, so what else is new. I’m sure “they” the press was saying the same thing when online dating, phone chats, and AOL chat came out. Wasn’t there an article similar to this about Manhunt?

    At the end, people will eventually miss the social interaction and go out and have fun.

  45. BRAINS says

    Agreeing with you again,RICK!

    Something is happening…..!

    However, I am offended by your implication that 54 is old. As I don’t feel old, nor look “old” at all.

    Age is in the mind!

    But good job today, RICK!

    Stating your age also has granted me a better insight to your posts.

  46. BRAINS says

    Agreeing with you again,RICK!

    Something is happening…..!

    However, I am offended by your implication that 54 is old. As I don’t feel old, nor look “old” at all.

    Age is in the mind!

    But good job today, RICK!

    Stating your age also has granted me a better insight to your posts.

  47. Gordon says

    Lol the incoming Olympians fckd up grindr in London, bet you wish you were here… In Glasgow, we have our own games, paraletics – whoever dodges buses & pukes within 3 yards of an ambulance

  48. Josh says

    So much for love at first sight. “Gone is the romance that was so devine”(Mia Farrow “Gatsby”) Thank god for dealing with real people. “Love to Love You Baby” “Love Hangover” Pictures can be so deceiving. I want to invent an app that will show where my grave is. Now that would be kinky and new. Life a we knew it is “Gone With The Wind,” and Vivian Lee was bipolar.

  49. Nat says

    “and remember to volunteer and donate to help all those who don’t have the opportunity to own homes and businesses due to your own white-privilege.”

    … says the man championing the physical embodiment of while male privilege.

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