Responsible for mass misery and discomfort, dating apps are the antonym of Karl Marx’s famous “opiate of the masses.” These apps are the dining-hall-egg-flavored vape cartridge of the masses.
This also happens to be what makes them fun.
The primary upsides of dating apps are the people watching, the sometimes entertaining banter, dates and hookups. It’s also a lot easier to meet people, of course, but this accessibility comes with pros and cons.
The downsides are recognizing everyone at house shows as people you’ve matched with but never spoken to, seeing all your exes and making it public knowledge that you’re available. Then, there’s the overwhelming nature of the app: Swiping is fun and harmless, but suddenly having to speak to all your matches can lead to burnout.
Another fun thing about these apps is you can see who has self-awareness and who doesn’t. Fun fact, most people don’t have an ounce of self-awareness. In fact, most people’s profiles are downright awful. The photography is bad, the bios are cringe and so are the prompts. I can’t imagine how much worse it would be were I looking to date a man.
The key to a good dating profile is making it look effortless, but not lazy. There should be a variety to the photos. Teeth are important. I can’t explain how to not be cringeworthy, but you should be minimally cringeworthy in your dating profile. Unless it’s intentional, then sometimes that’s okay.
Leave your Harry Potter tattoos covered, please. Actually, no — I need to know if you have a Harry Potter tattoo for the same reasons I need to be relatively sure of who you voted for in the last presidential election. It will go into my bad tattoo folder, but we’ll be safe from each other. It’s better this way.
Now, deciding what to say with the first message is the hardest part. When I match with someone significantly better looking than me, and they’re not also Jewish, there’s a near zero chance they respond to anything I say. This puts me in a situation where I have to say something very clever, which is hard because my brain is in a deep hibernation when I’m on one of these apps.
If you succeed at being perceived as okay to another person via some short banter and good questions, this might result in a date. Dates are about creating an enjoyable experience for another person, and this actually isn’t that hard most of the time. People remember the feelings you leave them with, even if you aren’t compatible.
Dates are about curation and being pleasant company. Plan activities! My friends tease me because most of my dates are five to eight hours long. This is because before a date I usually plan three dates in my head, then select one. Then, if they want to hang out more, we go on dates two and sometimes three on the same day. This can be as bad as it sounds. They’re marathons. It’s time effective, however, and you can really get a sense of a person when you’ve hung out with them without a break for a whole day.
I’m also terrible at goodbyes. It’s important to have exit ramps on a date, where one activity ends and the next could commence — or not. Ideally, it would be socially acceptable to just run away, even if you do want to see the other person again.
To better solve the mystery of how a date went, dating apps should send out feedback forms. “Considering both the limitations and possibilities of Ryan and the date, how would you rate the overall effectiveness and enjoyability of this date?” This information would then run through an algorithm that decides if another date is in the books.
This would also eliminate hard feelings. “The app decided I wasn’t into you. I had a great time watching you play spike ball on the Glade. Driving you to the hospital after you fractured your wrist really bonded us.”
Many of the dates I’ve been on end in a mutual ghosting situation, which is the best case scenario. Arguably, it’s better than going on many dates, falling in love and having a relationship. By the way, that’s the right order.
Anyway, mutual ghosting is the best thing that can happen to you on a dating app, short of suddenly being cleansed of a sex drive and the desire to be romantically loved. This being said, dating apps can be enjoyable as long as you’re aware of their immense limitations and proclivity to attract unstable people and odd experiences.
I started this piece by claiming that dating apps were responsible for misery and discomfort, which is true. But what makes them bad — the lawless chaos, the bizarre banality — is also what makes them fun.