HACK­ING CHIVALRY

Some peo­ple say that dat­ing apps are mak­ing men FLAKY, SLEAZY, and SELF­ISH . . . and that dat­ing apps are the so­lu­tion.

Esquire (Philippines) - - MAN AT HIS BEST -

“MAKE AMER­ICA LOVE AGAIN,” the ad blared through my news feed over black-and-white pho­to­graphs of pre-Pill cou­ples court­ing at the sock hop. A few taps later, the web­site for tech start-up Eve in­formed me with only a hint of irony: “Mod­ern dat­ing is in cri­sis. We thought there should be an app for that.”

It’s been five years since Tin­der dis­rupted the dat­ing game, al­low­ing mil­len­ni­als to sum­mon po­ten­tial part­ners like taxis and Chi­nese take­out. Then came the back­lash. Think pieces de­cried a waste­land of empty prom­ises and one-night stands. One ar­ti­cle blamed Tin­der for the “dat­ing apoc­a­lypse,” prompt­ing an in­fa­mous Twit­ter tantrum from the brand. Books like Aziz An­sari’s Mod­ern Love wres­tled with our hookup-happy cul­ture’s “para­dox of choice.” Stock prices wa­vered. Mo­bile dat­ing was in need of a PR makeover.

Ac­cord­ing to the doom­say­ers, men are swip­ing right with aban­don, “ghost­ing,” and dodg­ing com­mit­ment. (Mil­len­nial-to-English trans­la­tion: They’re com­ing on to too many women, dis­ap­pear­ing af­ter two dates, and gen­er­ally be­hav­ing like they have a whole sea of fish wait­ing in their pocket—which, of course, they do.) So who can save sin­gles from the calamity the tech bros have wrought? “Us,” say the tech bros.

And so a crop of new app fea­tures have emerged. “Men have been taught to pea­cock and get our at­ten­tion, es­pe­cially in on­line com­mu­ni­ties that cre­ate this sense of ur­gency and ag­gres­sion,” says a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from Bum­ble, a spin-off from one of Tin­der’s co­founders that nixes creepy pickup lines by let­ting women make the first move. (Bum­ble has in­tro­duced a wa­ter­mark fea­ture to its pho­to­shar­ing func­tion, in the hope that plas­ter­ing users’ names across every snap­shot will give them pause be­fore they send that un­so­licited dick pic.) Apps like Hinge—which makes matches via mu­tual friends— and Tin­der also launched cam­paigns to re­brand them­selves as re­la­tion­ship-fo­cused ser­vices rather than fric­tion-free hookup tools. Eve, which launched this past spring, in­tro­duced a sys­tem that rates men on how they use the app. For every swipe right, men lose points for be­ing less se­lec­tive—en­cour­ag­ing them to nar­row their cri­te­ria from “any fe­male with a pulse” to “women I’m re­ally in­ter­ested in.”

Eve co­founder Hank Du­ma­nian is well aware that guys may bris­tle at the idea of be­ing scored by an al­go­rithm (and in­deed, all the men I spoke with felt at least a lit­tle un­com­fort­able with the dou­ble stan­dard). But Du­ma­nian in­sists he’s do­ing them a fa­vor. The prob­lem with dat­ing apps, as he sees it, is that they “treat male and fe­male users as func­tional equiv­a­lents.” The re­al­ity is that men not only far out­num­ber women (some apps have a male-fe­male ra­tio as high as 70 to 30) but also be­have en­tirely dif­fer­ently. The av­er­age man will swipe right on nearly half the women he sees. (A se­condary, auto-right-swipe app mar­ket has even sprung up to mit­i­gate the risks of carpal tun­nel.) By com­par­i­son, the av­er­age fe­male user swipes right only 14 per­cent of the time.

As a woman, I find Eve a lit­tle in­tim­i­dat­ing. What are the odds a 9.2 will use one of his precious swipes on me? But I spoke with oth­ers who were ex­cited by the idea of an app that pushes men to, as one woman put it, fi­nally “swipe with in­ten­tion.”

So if it’s an all-you-can-lay buf­fet you’re look­ing for, keep Tin­der on your home screen. But if—bless your heart—you’re hold­ing out for The One? Then step away from the slot ma­chine and try a game that in­volves a lit­tle strat­egy; the jackpot’s bound to be big­ger. —Ju­lia Black

“Send nudes” is not a bio.

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