Sex

Dating Apps, Please Do Less

Tinder and other dating apps are trying to copy TikTok. But why watch 'fun' videos of some stranger when you can... just hook up?
Katie Way
Brooklyn, US
June 23, 2021, 2:47pm
Female roommates looking at phone using Internet dating app
Photo by Anchiy via Getty Images

As the U.S. reopens, online dating is making a roaring comeback—a little too roaring, if you ask me. This isn’t the fault of the people using them: It makes sense that the apps would be jam-packed with those who spent quarantine marinating in horniness. It’s the companies behind the apps that spent the past year cooking up their own ideas about how to make their products more overwhelming, and less fun. 

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On Tuesday, Tinder launched what is essentially a pivot to TikTok, aka a new feature that allows users to upload video clips to their profiles, as well as a brand-new Explore page where users can look for other people who’ve indicated similar interests on their profiles. It’s not just Tinder going multimedia: Wired recently wrote about a spate of smaller multimedia dating apps, like Feels (which allows videos on profiles), Lolly (which invites you to “match with people while exploring sweet video content”), and Snack (which bills itself as “video-first dating”), all of which purport to combat the “boring” experience of looking at photos and swiping right or left on potential mates.

To be perfectly honest, this news chills me to my core. I vehemently oppose any attempts to meld social media with Tinder, Hinge, Bumble et al., because the most attractive thing someone can do on a dating app is have a profile that clearly took less than 10 minutes to craft. 

The dating app profile should be nothing more than an avatar; a DTF alter ego; a sexual cover letter that gets less appealing the more carefully crafted it is. Pouring time and energy into a dating app profile is all well and good if it’s your first rodeo or if you’re looking for something extremely specific, but a Hinge, Tinder, or Bumble bio that’s clearly taken hours to create betrays both an abundance of time and a total lack of understanding as to how to best use it. Your one wild and precious life, spent penning a novella and pairing it with professional headshots, just to get wasted on a Tuesday with a stranger? Please! 

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The casual dating app profile, meanwhile, displays confidence, a willingness to buck expectations, and a lack of exes who were “into photography”—all supremely hot qualities that I personally look for in a partner. The casual profile says, “I don’t spend a ton of time ‘on here’… because I don’t really have to.” When I met my boyfriend on Tinder, his entire bio was “Ready for spring” and mine was one word: “Confident.” That’s it! Now we’re in love!

The makers of dating apps are regularly dreaming up new features—maybe to keep hopeful users swiping, maybe to ensure they continue to get press coverage, probably both. Most users are aware that it’s basically a numbers game: A certain number of matches will get winnowed down to a certain number of conversations, and a teeny-tiny number of those will result in actual dates. It’s perfectly rational to try and up your chances of an actual meetup (and actual romance!) by taking the time to formulate a dating app profile that showcases the best and brightest version of you. But a carousel of someone’s “best” TikTok video, painstakingly created to make them seem attractive, fun, and smart will never be as hot as a three to five kinda blurry photos and a single line they dashed off to represent their entire personality. Mystery is hot! Low-effort is hot! Capital-letter Content… isn’t.

The other major flaw in the plan to make online dating a multi-dimensional experience is that dating apps work in large part because they’re so unpleasant to spend time on. The experience of getting 20 different “Hiiiii :)” messages in a row is just gently hellish enough to drive you to the text conversation as soon as possible, presumably paving the way for actual, in-person interaction. You know: dating! 

The point of online dating is not to stay on the apps for an entertaining experience chock-full of “good content.” If that’s why you’re using the apps, you don’t want to find love or fill out your sexual roster; you’re just trawling for more Content, perhaps in the form of a pickup line toscreenshot and post on Twitter with the caption “can you BELIEVE this person I matched with on the sex app said I’m hot??????” Which is to say: You are beyond hope or salvation.

Follow Katie Way on Twitter.