We've all been there—it's been a long day, you're feeling yourself, and you want someone else to feel you too. So you open Grindr—stop denying it, queen—and start scanning through an array of faces, torsos and blank profiles.
Finally, you find a profile that peaks your interests and after a tasteful exchange of nudes and a colorful discussion about watersports, you know he's the one. You invite him over and he responds saying that he doesn't have a ride, in turn inviting you to his place.
You pause for a moment, questioning if this encounter is safe, briefly remembering all the horror stories of online creepers. You shake off the anxieties and tell yourself that you're just being too paranoid.
You proceed to go to his house.
What happens next is entirely left up to fate, and should you decide to take that chance—you should be prepared for the worst.
On February 26, the Netherland Times reported that the body of 17 year old Orlando Boldewijn was found in a lake after he was reported missing. He went missing after a date arranged on Grindr.
On February 4, a Massachusetts teenager arranged to meet with two men at a local reservoir to smoke. He had met them on Grindr. The Daily Mail reports that the unnamed victim was attacked and beaten by four teens who stole his Nike Air Jordan sneakers, $140 in cash, and his cell phone.
On February 3, ABC7Chicago reported that the victim was robbed with a knife and had his finger cut off after meeting the suspect on Grindr and giving his address.
Perhaps the worst Grindr encounters occurred in London in late January 2018, when a 32-year-old martial arts teacher was arrested for planning to give crystal meth to and have sex with a child, according to Metro UK. I've omitted the more gut-wrenching details, and thankfully no child was actually harmed in this case.
It's not an easy conversation to have when talking about the dark realities and intentions of some internet users. Apps like Grindr, which are mainly driven out of sexual desire, create a space which is not inherently problematic, but one that is very easy to make so. I have found myself in conversations on Grindr that haunt me to this day, and I've even validated and fetishized extreme violence, something I wish I could take back.
Other times I have been catfished and misled about people's intentions. I have been approached by multiple users offering me meth and quick cash scams. Beyond this, I have been verbally attacked and have been in the company of very unsavory characters.
When trying to check for the validity of an online user, asking for a few pictures is not enough. If the user does not have social media or is unwilling to share it with you, or if the accounts they share lack personal information, verifiable friends and family, and an in-depth history of past posting, exercise caution.
When meeting someone new it is always a good idea to arrange to meet in a public place, and also to insist on facetiming before arrangements to meet in person are even made. It is also important to be sober the first time you meet someone.
When meeting someone in person, especially if going to a private residence, it is imperative to let close friends and family know where you are going. This can be as simple as sending them a text with the address or sharing your location services with them and letting them know to expect a text from you saying that you are safe when you get there.
It is always important to know and openly communicate your sexual health status when meeting people, and especially beneficial to know self defense.
The Internet, and especially social apps like Grindr, are exactly what users make of it. Grindr can be used to improve your social life and sex life, but it can also improve your chances of being a target for violence.
That is not to say that we should avoid using dating, sex or social media apps or that using them is wrong, but rather to say that we must be extremely cautious and never assume the intentions of strangers.
Please be safe and remember to have fun!