A new survey is revealing some surprising truths about how our favorite apps make us feel.
Time Well Spent polled 200,000 iPhone users about their app usage, and looked at whether they made them feel happy or unhappy. Unsurprisingly, meditation/mindfullness apps like Headspace ranked favorably, with 99% percent of users reporting they logged off feeling good.
Music and podcast apps also received high scores.
Topping the “unhappy” list, though, was Grindr: 77% of Grindr users reporting feeling regret after surfing the ubiquitous hookup app. That’s significantly worse than the next two “unhappy” apps, Candy Crush Saga (71%) and Facebook (64%) respectively.
According to Time Well Spent, which is dedicated to “reversing the digital attention crisis,” how much time we’re on Grindr might be why it’s making us miserable.
“On average, comparing between ‘Happy’ and ‘Unhappy’ amounts of usage of the same apps, their ’unhappy’ amount is 2.4 times the amount of ’happy time,’” the org claims. People who used Facebook 22 minutes a day, for example, reported they were happy with the experience. But those who used Facebook for 59 minutes were unhappy, a trend that held true for Candy Crush, Reddit, and Instagram.
Though Time Well Spent didn’t indicate if this trend was true for Grindr, too, most users reported logging on the app for at least an hour a day. Cutting usage by 2.4 times, to about 25 minutes a day, could make for a happier experience. (Other surveys actually report the average Grindr user spends two hours a day on the app.)
Of course, time spent is only part of the equation: Unlike a computer simulation like Candy Crush, hookup apps see us interacting with other humans at our most unguarded. I’d hypothesize a lot of that unhappiness on Grindr stems from rudeness, racism, femme-shaming, flaking, and other asshole behavior.
I had THIS interaction Grindr a few weeks ago.
So it begs the question: If they make us feel so terrible, why do we keep using Grindr, Scruff, Jack’d, and the like?
“I delete and re-download Grindr once a week,” my friend Simon confessed. “I re-download it when I’m drunk on the weekends and don’t have anyone to go home with at the end of the night. Then I wake up and delete it. Sometimes I have a guy in bed. Usually, I don’t.”
Yes, horniness plays a part. But I think hope does to: Hope that there’s another lonely soul out there looking for a meaningful connection.
It’s also about necessity: In remote areas, hookup apps may be the only way to connect with other gay and bi men. One 20-year-old told me he’s too young to go to the bars, so “Grindr is the best way I can meet gay guys in real life.”
Regardless, maybe Time Well Spent is onto something: Maybe we just need to cut back how much time we’re on Grindr and other hookup apps to feel happier about them.
At the very least it would save battery life.