My Grindr Experiment

In my previous post I talked about my use of technology to aid my quest for love. Dating technology has evolved over time; from dating agencies and singles ads in newspapers, onto phone chat lines, texting services and onto dating/hook-up websites (such as gaydar, fitlads, manhunt etc). The latest technology to be adopted for this purpose is the smartphone – there are countless apps promising to help you find love, make friends or just get a little action.

The most popular one of these (amongst the gay community at least) is Grindr. For those of you who are unfamilar with Grindr – you create a profile with your stats, add a photograph and a short welcome message and in return Grindr shows you other guys logged in near your location by use of GPS. You can message the guys, swap pictures etc. All very cool. I’ve been on Grindr since it was launched. I’ve always been at the cutting edge, trying new apps and gadgets as soon as they come out. My profile has remained largely the same, my age has changed with the years and my photograph has been updated a few times.

I started wondering last weekend (25th Feb 2012) what kind of responses someone would get if their profile said that they were HIV+. So I created myself a second profile on Grindr, almost identical to mine in (but different enough to look like a different person), still looking for “Friends, fun and dates” – but this time I mentioned my HIV status in the profile text.

Over the course of the week (25 Feb – 03 Mar) my existing profile received messages from 74 users. On the other hand my (almost identical) profile that mentions my HIV status had 11 people message it. Four of those eleven messaged purely to ask me questions about HIV and one felt it necessary to send me foul mouthed abuse for seemingly no reason. Which leaves me with six people actually showing an interest in me.

Let’s look at that for a second shall we? That’s a 92% reduction in interest purely by mentioning my HIV status. It was this realisation that led to a few miserable tweets on Saturday night, sorry if you had to put up with those. I thought we were really making progress. The more things change eh?

Best,

Sam
UKPositiveLad

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About ukpositivelad

Twenty something blogger from the UK. I'm HIV positive and tweet and blog about my life. The ups and downs, hoping to educate, entertain and fight stigma.

Posted on 05/03/2012, in Dating, Diary, Personal thoughts, Relationships, Stigma, Technology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. Steve Dolphin

    Dude, that sucks quite a lot, I’m sorry to hear it – I think the problem is that it’s simply misinformation though – for the best part I bet people think that if you want to have a relationship with a guy who’s HIV+ it means you’ll definitely catch it and end up worse off as a result, it’s a stigma, yes, but you’re doing the right things to change it, so chin up!

    Ghandi once said “be the change you want to see in the world” – I think that’s what you’re doing!

  2. An interesting experiment but percentages don’t mean a lot with such small numbers. Hope you are working your way through the six, one at a time.

    All good wishes.

    Chris xx

    • I think 85 odd messages is enough to work with for some basic percentages here. I’m not stating that it reflects the population as a whole, just my experience.

  3. It would be interesting to see which differing photos you used. Can you put them on the article by way of illustration? Grindr, to me, seems to be about an almost split-second visual decision, rather than any invested profile searching..

    • Not really without compromising my persona on here. But both were pretty flattering chest photographs. Normally have a headshot on my existing profile, but changed it to be similar to the new profile.

  4. Did the ones who messaged your profile mentioning your status seem any different from the ones who messaged your other profile? And did any of them look like the kind of people you’d like to meet?

  5. An interesting, if obviously disheartening experiment and although I’m sure as some commenters – with all the best intentions I don’t doubt – suggest there may be all sorts of reasons for the difference in responses, if the only significant difference in the profiles is your disclosure then I reckon it’s safe to say that that’s the reason why.

    But, I do agree very strongly with HoMoFo, that with Grindr more than any other profiles site, the decision NOT to message a guy is a split-second one; it *shouldn’t* matter that you’re positive but nor ‘should’ it matter that someone’s a bit tubby, or black, or – gasp – GINGER. Better six guys who’ve really thought about it, than ten times as many who are just looking for a nice chest – which I’m sure yours is.

    In a nutshell – it’s not you, it’s them ;-)

    X

  6. alright sam, its wicked what you are doing with the experiments to find out how it differs from a none positive person to a positive person. but at same time dont let any of it get ya down from specking to ya ur a wicked guy, and if people are not willing to spend a bit of time to talk to you then it is their loss you may have hiv, but that does not make you or anyone else with it any different from anybody else any less of a person your still a human being with human emotions and hopefully one day people will start reliseing this, but yea as i say dont let it get to ya cuz if they aint willing to spend a bit of time to find out who you are and how lovely you can be then they aint worth a second thought, they are the ones if you ask me that should be stigmatised not people with hiv, cause people with hiv did not choose to receive that status, it just happened and its not just haveing sex without pretection that can cause it, their could be numerous reasons, u could be the safeiest person in the world, but a condom could break, or u could contract it from a toilet seat if 2 ppl nip themselfs and the first person had hiv, but these people that see hiv+ and then dont spend the time to get to know the person just cause of that status are the ones that are making a choice which not only affects then cause they could be missing out on a wonderful guy like yourself, they dont realise it affects others aswell like yourself. and these are the people that should be stigmatised the world would be a much better place if everyone had more respect for each other.

  7. People are scared of HIV without a doubt. Once upon a time it was a killer and nobody knew anything about it. Times (and drugs) have changed & improved drastically (as has life prognosis) but education hasn’t. HIV lacks education and everyone remains scared.

    Maybe you could join, or set up, an education based charity that seeks to educate ppl that you can’t catch HIV/AIDS from touching someone?

  8. JonInPastonia

    People are strange. Present them with facts and they prefer not to respond, but offer them BB without the facts and they seem to ask no questions…

  9. I think it’s true how unfair people can be. I don’t have HIV but I would gladly enter into a relationship with a HIV positive guy if they were a nice, genuine person. People shoudn’t judge you or try to define your personality just based purely on your HIV status. x

  10. I did a similar experiment here in the states. I had a recent breakup of a long term relationship and I posted my profile (with face pic) on multiple dating services. I posted twice on each with my status in the profile of one posting at each site. As a rule, they all received about the same number of “views” but, I never received a single contact from the ones containing my status. You’re right. I too thought we had come farther. BTW … I’m nearly 50 so, apparently, age has little to do with it.

  11. It’s no surprise to me that someone who is HIV- and looking for casual sex would probably choose not to pursue a stranger from Grindr who’s definitely HIV+. Not when they have another 200 chest shots to choose from, the clear majority of whom are probably not HIV+ (ie. based on known average infection rates today).
    It’s all about the perceived risk, isn’t it? I say perceived because you have no way of knowing if a stranger is definitely HIV-. And even if you avoid risky behaviour, the HIV- person IS still taking a degree of risk in sleeping with the HIV+ person – there is no such thing as 0% risk.
    Like most situations in life, if you want someone to choose you then spruke your benefits & strengths first, and don’t be just another stranger to them. Once you have their attention you can tell them about the risks. Discuss the risks. Find out what they know about HIV. Be honest with them about it. Then, if you’re lucky, maybe they will consider the benefits to outway the risks. If not, well it’s their choice.

  12. This is a really fascinating report. Thanks very much for posting it. It was picked up by the excellent http://www.body.com and included in their weekly bulletin.

    Your report is an indicator of reality, and it’s sobering, and sad. But we have no choice but to deal with it.

    Education can do a lot, but at the same time human beings are programmed to “look out for No. 1″. Illness, sickness, disease: avoid, avoid, avoid! It’s irrational, of course, because in the end almost everyone becomes the victim of illness and wants the support of others.

    I would say: treat the very small number of people who DID respond positively to you like GOLD. Your happiness lies with one of them. It’s not a lot of choice, but we have to make the best of things. And the fact is each one of those people has been on one heal of journey, a journey that has probably made them into a much stronger and more worthwhile individual than the average Joe.

    Good luck, and, once again, many thanks for posting this info.

  13. AnotherpozladinUK

    Very interesting… I’m a positive guy (recently diagnosed) who uses grindr and have thinking about putting it on my profile – surely it makes it *easier* to tell people, gets it out the way and upfront. But thanks to reading this – I think for the moment I will carry on without it on my profile. I wonder what reaction you’d get from guys if you made the first move and messaged first from the positive profile? would they still talk or block/ignore?

    Anyway – thanks for good read, very interesting!

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