This article originally appeared on VICE CA.
When it comes down to it, all dating apps are relatively the same. They’re games of thumb war, your opponent being an endless stream of profiles separated by their bangability. And you lose HOURS of your life doing this, whilst repeatedly having the same conversation with strangers you never end up meeting.
If you actually do meet up, you either make an excuse to leave within 30 minutes of the date because you realize they’re nothing like the person you desperately created in your head; have a mediocre-to-OK hook-up only to never speak again; or you end up getting ghosted just after you finish getting ready to go out and have texted them to confirm the location of the bar you’re meeting at (true story).
So why do we keep using them? Because they’re always an option when you’re single and need attention—though definitely not better than just sucking it up and meeting people in real life.
Earlier this year, Facebook made the announcement that nobody wanted: they too were getting in on the dating app business. Even better (or worse)? Canadians would be the first ones in North America to try it. That’s right, this evil yet un-deletable platform is attempting to stay relevant and have us ignore things like Russian trolls and electoral interference by getting us laid.
But since Canadians are getting early access to this app, I test it out so that other single millennials don’t have to. After about a week of using it, I grew frustrated with the feature’s algorithm, but I did end up meeting a guy who’s not total trash. Here’s what went down on my first week of Facebook Dating.
After its official November launch date, I found myself waiting a few days for Dating to actually appear on my Facebook. Keep in mind that “Dating”—as Facebook so innovatively calls it—isn’t a separate app like Messenger, rather a feature within the “more” tab on Facebook mobile. When it finally pops up, I’m prompted to make a profile on a page with Facebook’s weird Pepto-Bismol coloured graphics.
The simplicity of this app’s design—sans the dumb emojis, quirky affirmations and unexpected pop-ups of other dating apps—is on par with Facebook’s aesthetic, but the lack of distraction makes me feel like I’ve hit dating rock bottom.
Alas, I create a profile with a few good pictures of me and refuse to include most items from a long list of identifiers they offer, like where I went to school, my job title and company, if I have any kids and my religious views. I keep my height on there though because I’m 5’7 and I want shorter dudes to steer clear (no, I don’t care what your think-piece says). Finally, I add a simple bio: “Is this the new Bumble?”
Like a lot of long-term single millennials, I have a love-hate relationship with dating apps. I’ve used Bumble on short, random stints over the last three or four years and Tinder even less frequently because I loathe the idea of having a stupidly large list of potential mates on my phone. I’ve gone out with quite a few guys from Bumble, none of which have turned into relationships, although, I have become friends with some of them.
So I don’t have high hopes with this app going in because, one: it’s Facebook. And two: it’s not like I plan on finding the love of my life on a dating app anyway.
Basically how Facebook Dating works is you can tap “interested” or “pass” on the profiles that are suggested for you, instead of how you’d normally swipe right or left, respectively. Having to stop and tap is innately less user-friendly than other dating apps and I did not dig it.
Also unlike other apps where swiping right doesn’t require much thought, Dating forces you to start a conversation immediately once you “tap” interested. The thing is, what is there really to say to a stranger on a dating app other than “you seem attractive and semi-interesting and I’m just bored and don’t want to spend winter alone so you do you want to talk?”
This isn’t that surprising considering that’s the exact kind of social-engineering BS you expect from Facebook. In the same way it encourages you to meet with friends you had no plans to see, or wish a happy birthday to someone you haven’t spoken to in years, Facebook Dating tells you how to act when you just wish it’d let you do your own thing.
But the main thing that makes Dating different from other apps is that it doesn’t listen to you—like, at all. When I select my distance preference to be within 40 km, age range from 26 to 35, and height within a solid 5’11 to 7 goddamn feet tall, half of my suggested matches are basically the opposite of that. Instead, I’m getting dudes like 44-year-old Stephane from small-town Ontario, and wee Peter at 5’5” even though I asked for them not to be there—no offence, guys.
And I’m not sure if it’s because I’m using the app in its early stages and not everyone knows it exists, the options I get are slim-pickings at best. Profile photos are a mix of blurry snapshots, pics that were clearly taken more than five years ago and others that are not pictures of people at all. There’s also way too many photo filters going on, like the one that turns you into a line-drawing (why is that a thing?) and the one that covers you with a glowing white light (again, why?). And just when I think I’ve come across a hottie, I’ll notice something weird in his profile, like a text overlay on one of his pics that says “your vibe attracts your tribe.”
As for the bios, they range from blank, to basic, to uncomfortably serious.
“I’m not here to play games or waste your time, so please don’t waste mine,” one says.
“Genuine soul seeking to connect for relationship purposes.”
“Must want kids.”
Some are looking for their new “adventure buddy,” while others are bad sales pitches that include descriptors like “smart” and “good-looking.”
To add to the weirdness, about 60 percent of these dudes have at least one mutual friend with me.
At first I am taken aback by how many guys seem to be looking for The One, but when you think about the nature of Facebook it makes sense.
In fact, when Mark Zuckerberg announced this new feature, he described it as a tool to find “real long-term relationships—not just hookups.” Because why not find love in the same place that your friends share baby pics and internet trolls get off on comment section arguments?
I can think of many reasons not to find real long-term relationships on Facebook—one being the fact that saying “we met on Facebook” is possibly the saddest thing I’ve ever heard. Another is the fact that Dating is a massive waste of time since it lets anyone start an conversation with you regardless of mutual interest.
Pretty much immediately after I start using it, I begin getting those unsolicited messages on the “interested” page. Unlike the short, simple messages I’m sending to dudes, the ones I get are like the creepy messages that women find in their “other” inboxes from creeps and weird friends of friends. Plus, they’re all from guys I haven’t shown interest in.
On the other hand, I do get some genuine messages that aren’t creepy and kinda nice from guys that I probably would not have swiped right on on Bumble. For a split second, I tell myself it’s refreshing that Facebook is letting everyone shoot their shot. In the past, I’ve had guy friends tell me that they don’t get as many matches as women do on dating apps, so levelling the playing field like this does give people the opportunity to connect with anyone they want.
But if we’re being honest, the point of dating apps is not for it to be an open playing field—they function on the basis that you can be superficial and selective with your preferences. For example, at one point in the week, I haven’t checked Dating for an entire day and when I return to my phone, I have upwards of 30 messages from dudes who I haven’t shown interest in, nor are all of them within my preferences. If women wanted random men to approach them unwarrantedly, we could just walk down the street and reply to catcalls instead.
Each day I take a few minutes here and there to go through suggested matches. Since most of the men don’t fall within the preferences I’m looking for, I am frustrated that I’m wasting so much time doing the work most other dating apps would’ve already done for me.
I chat with a few guys but for the most part our conversations don’t last longer than a day or two. That may be in part because notifications for Facebook are confusing—I legitimately can’t figure out how to turn mine on for Dating messages. So I find myself checking back into the app to see if there are any updates and as a result, I forget about conversations all together.
One guy I end up talking with who we’ll call Sean* fits into my age, height and location preferences so, with this app, that means it’s already off to a good start. We have a mutual friend so before I reply to his initial message, I creep his Facebook profile to make sure his photos aren’t totally deceiving and his Facebook wall is relatively normal (i.e., no inspirational quotes or too many shared memes).
I find out that he lives a two-minute walk away from me and we’re practically neighbours so I ask him out for drinks that evening at the bar across the street from us. He agrees, but in classic dating app fashion, he bails on me an hour before because his bed is “really comfortable.”
I write him off and continue using the app with even less hope than before because it seems it’s already slowing down. I get less notifications that men are “interested” in me as the week goes on and a few of my conversations go into inactive mode because the other person already deleted their Dating profile.
One night that weekend, Sean asks me if I’m free. Despite being annoyed by his lazy bail earlier that week, I have no plans after 10pm so we grab a couple drinks at the local bar. Again, in classic dating app fashion, the dude is 10 minutes late despite living literally across the street.
When he arrives he apologizes, joking that he’s worried I’ll write an article about him because I’m a journalist. Ha.
The date actually goes alright and we have a lot in common. He’s not standardly my “type” but it doesn’t seem like he’s looking for The One either. Plus he agrees that the app is flawed and, in comparing other dating apps, we decide that Facebook’s is trash.
I’m literally yawning once we’re a couple hours in and I try to hide it to no avail. Not because he’s boring, but because I’m exhausted. Perhaps Dating has taken a bigger toll on me than I thought. We agree to part ways and he tells me to let him know when I get home from my two-minute walk. Later he says we should go out again and I agree, partly because I don’t want to seem like the asshole who went out with him just to write an article about it.
At this point I’m feeling less inclined to go back on the app altogether because I frankly don’t want to chat with anyone on that godforsaken forum ever again. At the end of it all, it actually makes me miss Bumble and I consider downloading it again for the seventh time. If all else fails, right?
So if any Facebook reps are reading this, please fix your dating feature because my fingers ache from pressing “pass” over and over for the past week and tbh it seems like you launched this one before it was ready for real life humans.
Overall though, it’s hard to imagine that those who’ve already given up on Facebook (i.e., a majority of your users) are going to actively put the fate of their relationships into your hands. A better solution may actually be to let this sink along with the rest of the ship. Thank u, next.
*Name has been changed for privacy
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