Douchebag, noun: “an individual who has an over-inflated sense of self-worth, compounded by a low level of intelligence, behaving ridiculously in front of colleagues with no sense of how moronic he appears”.
A sudden increase in ‘douchebag’ behaviour in Grindr profiles has inspired one disgruntled user to strike back.
These profiles can easily be identified thanks to their vain descriptions and heightened sense of superiority, while usually spewing mild racism, ageism and vilifying preference abbreviations, such as “NO AZN’s” and “no oldiez”.
If the above description sounds like your Grindr profile, then watch out! Your profile may be one of the many featured on the name and shame website www.Douchebagsofgrindr.com At least one Sydney user has already been featured on the site.
While created purely for entertainment, the website has raised the issue of whether this sort of site endorses a bullying mentality itself by encouraging users to ridicule those who have vilified others.
“Websites like these are mean-spirited and are not in the spirit of what Grindr is about,” Grindr’s marketing and sales vice president Serge Gojkovich told the Star Observer.
“We encourage users to contact websites such as these directly to request any photos of themselves that have been posted without their permission be removed.”
“I think it creates a little too much of a ‘spectacle’ of humiliation,” Sydney University researcher Senthorun Raj, author of the academic article ‘Grindring Bodies: Racial and Affective Economies of Online Queer Desire’, said, although he applauded the website’s underlying aim to challenge certain kinds of prejudice.
“And some of the comments about the profiles themselves are as derogatory as the profiles themselves.”
After interviewing a few Sydney-based Grindr users, it would seem that while these “douchebags” do deserve to be punished, public humiliation isn’t the way to go.
“When I see a profile that says ‘def no Indians or Asians’ I automatically think this person is ignorant, arrogant and narrow-minded,” occasional Grindr user Dane, 24, said.
“To me, it’s not unlike those sites that name and shame cheating husbands and wives.
“The real question we should answer is why do people choose to openly discriminate in such a way? I really think people see this sort of behaviour as a turn-off and see right through it.”
Most Grindr users who spoke to the Star Observer agreed that moderation of profiles was not up to Grindr. Rather it was the responsibility of users to determine what is, and is not, offensive, and for users to report offensive activity.
“Grindr’s this great thing where we can all be free — where there is no restriction or censorship,” casual Grindr user Jeremy Law, 26, said.
“I think it’s really up to people to flag violators rather than Grindr telling you what to do.”
Raj agreed that censorship was not the way to go.
“I do not believe in censoring profiles, unless it incites hatred or violence, as it does not challenge the underlying cultural prejudices that give rise to such discriminatory profiles,” Raj said.
“I do find it odd, however, that nude photos are considered more offensive by Grindr than racist, ageist or sexist speech.”
Gojkovich said Grindr employs a large team of moderators and continues to grow its team — but it relies on users to report offensive material so that offending users can be banned.
“We do our best at Grindr to provide the best customer experience and we do actively monitor users’ profile screens to ensure they meet our terms of service,” Gojkovich said.
Grindr is developing a controversial solution to the problem — the company plans to introduce more filters to the app, allowing users to only see exactly what they are searching for, thereby eliminating the ‘need’ for some users to be offensive.
“We are continuing to enhance the Grindr platform with new features and certainly new filters and categories are being developed,” Gojkovich said. “Stay tuned for updates.”
Raj said he believes these filters would restrict the app.
“Surely part of the mystery of human intimacy is that we can never be completely sure about the kinds of people we find attractive,” Raj said. “Why preclude the possibilities by relying so heavily on filters?”
While Douchebagsofgrindr.com’s main aim may have been to curb the rising rate of vilification of users and ‘douchebag’ profiles using the app, the site still sees daily updates of profiles with no end in sight.
The creator of Douchebagsofgrindr.com did not respond to enquiries about the website.
By JESSE MATHESON