Online Dating Never Became Cool, Society Just Changed Its Definition Of Uncool (Part 2)

Photo Credit: Tinder Blog

“Online dating” is just a positive spin on “real-world disengagement.”

The biggest problem with tech is that entrepreneurs (typically male) often try to solve nonexistent or immaterial problems. For example, near field communication technology like Apple Pay makes it possible to pay for something without having to reach into your pocket to get your wallet. Instead, you can reach into your wallet to get your phone. No time savings, but useful if you went for a run without your wallet. Or, if you have an Apple Watch, you can pay with your wrist and not have to reach into your pocket. From Apple’s perspective, that convenience is worth a few hundred dollars.

Today, Tinder announced verified celebrity profiles like Twitter and Facebook. Apparently, verified profiles help to solve the “problem” of celebrities being on Tinder and users thinking their profiles are fake. First, I don’t feel too bad for a celebrity who has to use a dating app to meet people. Second, if I were a celebrity, I wouldn’t want people swiping right on me because I am a celebrity. I believe groupie is the word I’m looking for. Third, verified profiles make Tinder more of a game than it already is. Instead of bragging about their number of matches, guys now will brag about how many celebrities they’ve pulled. Gizmodo hits the nail on the head when it says, “In reality, verification for Tinder is probably the kind of feature that’s aimed at making the app attractive to users who aren’t verified, just as much as the ones who are.”

Take a step back and think about the purpose of dating apps like Tinder. If the aim is to cause users to meet as many people as possible, this new feature actually causes fewer people to match. By introducing “celebrities” into the mix, everyone without a verified profile becomes lower on the proverbial food chain. That means the hot guy who met women all the time now will have fewer people check him out than some guy who was on the 12th season of Survivor. And the beautiful woman who had her pick of the litter now will have to worry about the woman who was in that one commercial you forgot about. No one wins with verified profiles.

When will the insanity end? As I mentioned, in Part 1, The Match Group (Match, OkCupid, and Tinder) are filing an IPO. Verified profiles are just the beginning of a bunch of gimmicks aimed at getting people to stop meeting in real life. It’s not a matter of if Tinder will start paying celebrities like Lolo Jones to create verified accounts, but when. Apple and Tidal already are paying off hip artists to create exclusive content.

The difference between Tinder and social networking apps is that the latter memorialize real-world relationships. It’s weird when a random person adds you on Facebook or LinkedIn. The vast majority of my social networking connections are people whom I’ve met in real life and added as a means of staying in touch. Tinder, however, wants to replace the vital step of actually meeting people with swiping.

Scratch that. You soon won’t even have to swipe anymore. A third-party company is developing a “Hands Free Tinder” Apple Watch app (I’m guessing they’ll change the name before it’s released) that likes or passes users based upon the change in your heart rate. If your heart rate goes up, it means you like the person, and if it goes down, it means you’re not interested. I never thought I’d see a day when someone would build an app that told users whether they are attracted to someone. And, quite frankly, I’d be shocked if Tinder does not release a similar functionality in its native app.

I was in a bar in the Mission District of San Francisco a couple of weeks ago, and I saw a woman standing up next to a seated couple. I saw that the three of them were together, but the woman standing up was looking around. She was a little tall for my tastes, but I approached her because I was temporarily there by myself. I also approached her because she was in a dress and heels, a very rare spotting in the Mission.

I made small talk with her until the stocky guy who was seated stood up, placed his arm around my neck, and said, “Go ahead, buy her a drink. None of these p*ssies here have said a word to my sister.”

As far as I know, this woman wasn’t a celebrity and my heart beat probably didn’t change much upon seeing her. But I’m glad that I approached her. Between being dressed up and having to watch her brother and his girlfriend exchange loving glances, I could tell she wanted someone to acknowledge her presence.

My biggest fear is that human interaction as an end will become obsolete. I’m okay with automation of human interaction as a means and not the ends itself. For example, the point of a check-out line is to pay for a product, not to interact with a stranger. Thus, self check-out lines do not change the ends of paying for goods.

However, online dating does substantially change the ends of, for instance, going to a dive bar, college, and work. It used to be that socialization was an end of those places. Now, going to a dive bar is just to get an alcoholic beverage (a Cheers reboot would be pretty boring). Going to college is just to get an education. And going to work is just to accomplish a business-oriented goal.

Humanity has to demand more of ourselves. We have failed as a society by building billion-dollar companies whose business models are to disengage people from interacting in the real world. I’ve fallen victim to the convenience of online dating, but eventually realized that human interaction is not supposed to be convenient. Convenience is for p*ssies.