In work, play, education, and even healthcare, we are using social media during COVID-19 to approximate “normal life” before the pandemic. In Screen Love, Tom Roach urges us to do the opposite. Rather than highlight the ways that social media might help reproduce the pre-pandemic status quo, Roach explores how Grindr and other dating/hookup apps can help us envision a radically new normal: specifically, antinormative conceptions of selfhood and community.
Although these media are steeped in neoliberal relational and communicative norms, they offer opportunities to reconceive subjectivity and ethics in ways that defy normative psychological and sexual paradigms. In the virtual cruise, Roach argues, we might experience a queer sociability in which participants are formally interchangeable avatar-objects. On Grindr and other m4m platforms, a model of selfhood championed in liberal-humanist traditions—an intelligent, altruistic, eloquent, and emotionally expressive self—is often a liability.
By teasing out the queer ethical and political potential of an antisocial, virtual fungibility, Roach compels readers to think twice about media typically dismissed as sordid, superficial, and narcissistic. Written for students, professors, and nonacademics alike, Screen Love is an accessible, provocative, and at times subversively funny read.
Screen Love: Queer Intimacies in the Grindr Era by Tom Roach