We live in a big cyber world filled to the brim with dating apps and websites. Anyone these days can try to find love with the click of a button, from farmers and ranchers to the obsessively gluten-free. So, what’s the hubbub with this new one called Carrot Dating, which surprisingly is not the name for either of the previous sites mentioned?
MIT graduate and evident ladies’ man Brandon Wade invented an app that bribes women into going on dates with men. (Although the site’s FAQ page states that the briber can be of any demographic or sexual orientation—that is, women are allowed to bribe the men, too—77 percent of the bribers are male.) You see, it’s called Carrot Dating in reference to the idiomatic “carrot and stick.” Back in the old days, a cart driver would dangle a carrot attached to a stick in front of a donkey which would trick the donkey into moving forward, thus moving his cart. To Brandon, women are those finicky donkeys who don’t want to follow an unattractive, self-obsessed cart driver unless he dangles a yummy carrot in front of them.
The bribes are obviously not literal carrots, but rather can be as simple and affordable as free drinks or meals. If you’re a big time Mr. Money-Bags like Brandon himself you can go all out on more lavish and expensive gifts like jewelry or plastic surgery. According to the app’s official statement reported by The Independent, “Women have all the power in the online dating world: they receive countless messages from suitors, while men struggle for even a single reply. But by ‘dangling’ the right ‘carrot’ in front of beautiful girls, suitors can convince anyone to say 'yes' to a first date.” Brandon says that "women love getting presents like dogs love treats," and that all that is needed for a woman to give an unlucky-in-love guy a break is the promise of a free dinner and a few flowers.
Obviously, this has sparked a lot of anger. Enraged men and women equate this app to prostitution, and make the very valid argument that bribery does not effectively condition a person to falling in love. A leading expert in motivation studies, professor Edward Deci, said in a statement to the New York Times (in an article about cash incentives for students), “It is easy to get people to do things by paying them if you’ve got enough money and they’ve got the necessary skills… but they will keep doing it only as long as you keep paying them. And even if they were doing it before, when you stop paying them the behavior drops to a lower level than when you started paying them. We’ve done thousands of experiments on this over forty years and the data is incredibly robust.”
Christina Sterbenz of Business Insider further notes that, “if you offer a woman a present in exchange for a first date, then you’re implying she can be bought, much like a hooker.” Which is not necessarily true—there’s nothing intrinsically whorish about accepting a present. The problem with the app is more the expectation that the bribees will actually agree to sleep with the bribers after receiving their gifts. Since there’s no guarantee that sex will occur, the app could just turn out to be just an easy way for a girl to get a few free dinners.
Brandon Wade also founded SeekingArrangement.com and WhatsYourPrice.com. Both these sites, to the objective observer, run under the same formula of "money equals love." But Brandon doesn’t quite see it this way. According to the app’s website’s About page, he started the website as a "never-been-kissed nerd” looking for a solution. To him, a “bribe” is simply an incentive, a "foot-in-the-door needed to get the initial date and hopefully build the chemistry needed to fall in love." Is this fucked up and a little pathetic? Certainly. Yet, 30,000 people use the app. It’s not like Carrot Dating is all that different from a site like OK Cupid; few people are going to these sources seriously expecting to find true love. And, for that matter, Brandon Wade has been married for the past two years, apparently quite happily.
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