MISTER: Finally, a social-mobile app for the rest of usOnline Only, Top Highlights Friday, July 27th, 2012
On any given day, at any given hour, there are literally hundreds of thousands of single gay men across planet Gay plugging in, turning on and tuning in to what seems like an equally daunting number of social-mobile apps for men from all ends of the sexual spectrum. These men are seeking others for everything from coffee (before sex) to lunch (before sex) to long walks on the beach (before sex). They are ostensibly seeking friends, chats, networking opportunities, dates, lovers, marriage – where applicable – and just about every other imaginable kind of human interaction that the social-mobile app, as it is rather delusively called, can provide.
And, not coincidentally, there are almost as many social apps for gay men as there are flavors on the sexual menu: Grindr, Scruff, u2nite, iDate, SpeedDate, Hornet, SLAM, nearox, ManCandy, Gaybook, Purpll and of course the patron saint, Adam4Adam. What these sites promise (and which many of us mistakenly believe) is that there are literally dozens of men at the ready waiting for precisely what you have – often measured quite literally in inches – and who have dispensed with the more traditional avenues of courtship. In an era of insta-everything, we no longer have the time, we’ve convinced ourselves, to linger over one’s object of affection but have reduced the mating ritual to age, height, weight, sexual position, degree of hirsuteness , race, health and some curt, pithy tagline that hopes to encapsulate all that makes us human by reducing us to a winky face icon.
So, if it seems downright unhinged to want to launch yet another dating app, you’ll have to convince Carl Sandler, the creator of MISTER, a social-mobile app created for and dedicated to men – gasp! – 40 and older otherwise. “We started DaddyHunt.com about seven or eight years ago. We did that primarily to address what we saw as a need in the marketplace to have a community that was very friendly and welcoming to people who are older. So we went straight into our database and discovered very quickly that there were a lot of people who wanted an experience that they weren’t getting on a lot of sites.”
And by “an experience they weren’t getting on a lot of other sites,” for most men 40-or-over, who have foregone battling the slow, steady creep of age, that experience tends to reaffirm, not just the shallowness of youth and beauty but the depth of wisdom, experience brings, and its scarcity on these kinds of particular apps. Older single men begin to realize that what they are looking for, in most cases, is as Carl succinctly notes, “more than just a six-pack.”
But is there a disconnect between the daily realities of the user experience and how the brand is being marketed to the gay community at large? I challenged Carl to explain how, in an essay that appeared in The Huffington Post in which he reaffirmed that many social-mobile apps, “…can also be an emotional minefield, especially for anyone who feels too skinny, too fat, too ethnic, too hairy [or] too girly,” can he then go on to choose a very attractive, very muscular (and very white) man as his avatar for the MISTER Twitter account? Why is it that the promotional video seen on YouTube for his service features not one, but two very attractive, very muscular white guys? And is it me, or do the models that appear on their Facebook page appear to be older versions of that same – frankly tired – aesthetic that has been ingrained into the gay community since the get-go: that in order to be sexually desirable you have to be white and you have to be in-shape?
“Every single week, we feature our members-of-the-week. They are people from our own site that we choose as well as people that give us permission to use their own photos. And, actually, if you go through there, you’ll see that there are people of many different colors, sizes and shapes. In terms of what we are trying to convey with the brand and with the models, yes, we have used an attractive model to draw attention. But I wish you could see a series of postcards we did which included a guy with an enormous belly. We don’t want to be about young, beautiful and perfect.”
But, identity politics aside, is MISTER filling a gap that, for far too long, has gone unmet? “I get dozens of emails every day,” Carl explains animatedly, “from people saying they are getting a tremendous amount of value. [They’re] meeting new people. [They’re] connecting with others in a way that just wasn’t possible before. They are telling me: I get what MISTER is about. I understand it and I’m going to tell someone else who I think will get value from being on here.”
And in a world more seemingly disconnected than ever, despite the extraordinary opportunities now available at the tap of a finger, forty-, fifty- and even sixty-somethings have a new home that reflects their values and allows them, as Carl Sandler frequently says, to “be your best self online.”
Short URL: http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=27040