Canada

SEX FILES: Can online dating ever be APP-propriate?

Reviews and recommendations are unbiased and products are independently selected. Postmedia may earn an affiliate commission from purchases made through links on this page.

Article content

It’s Friday night and once again I’m navigating a familiar barrage of shirtless selfies, men posed lovingly next to motorcycles, and self-proclaimed “nice guys” who “love to laugh.”

At the behest of a friend, I created a profile on Facebook Dating. I’ve avoided online dating throughout the pandemic because it seemed like more trouble than it was worth. But my friend made the dating app, which can be accessed directly from your Facebook profile, sound fun and easy. “You don’t even have to write anything in your profile to get likes,” she tells me over drinks. I’m not sure that’s a selling point, but I don’t tell her this.

I like the sound of “fun and easy,” but in my experience, dating apps are anything but. Easy, yes. I can easily spend hours sucked into the app, swiping mindlessly while engaged in a grown up version of the game “hot or not.” But the process always leaves me feeling empty and gross, like I’ve been chewing gum on an empty stomach.

Advertisement

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

I also find texting with strangers tedious. Not that it matters. I usually give up and put my phone away before I actually connect with anyone. It’s exhausting.

Turns out, my disillusionment is anything but unique.

When speaking to women about dating apps, “exhausting is a word that comes up so much,” says Nancy Jo Sales, the New York Times bestselling author of the new book Nothing Personal: My Secret Life in the Dating App Inferno, an investigative memoir that sheds light on the misogyny, ageism, racism, and emotional and sexual dissatisfaction that plagues modern dating culture.

Sales, an award-winning journalist became a leading critic of the online dating industry after writing extensively on the topic and making her directorial debut with the HBO documentary Swiped: Hooking Up in the Digital Age.

In Nothing Personal, she argues that part of the reason we’re unhappy is because Big Dating (the tech giants behind our favourite apps) don’t have our best interests at heart. Dating apps were designed to be addictive, and are not, in fact, leading to meaningful connections for most users.

“These (dating) platforms have really robbed us of the pleasure and the excitement and the fun dating. It’s not fun anymore,” says Sales, of nancyjosales.com. Instead, “it’s exhausting for everyone because we are labouring. We are actually paying (online dating companies) in time, data and money to allow us to do the work for them.”

Advertisement

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

Sales says this is especially true for women on dating apps. “Most women are already conditioned to do more labour in relationships… women are often the ones texting more and following up more. They’re making more of an overture and trying to get a conversation going because they’re only getting one word, answers” — or worse, requests for nudes or unsolicited dick pics. As a result, women are left feeling burnt out and devalued, says Sales.

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

The problem is that apps are designed with the heterosexual, cisgendered male gaze in mind, explains Sales. By feeding men an endless stream of women — some real, some fake (bots) — it creates the impression of endless options for sex. This in turn, emboldens men with a false sense of power and entitlement. When a woman doesn’t react the way the app conditions them to expect, this can lead to anger. Anyone who’s ever rejected a man online and received a “YEAH WELL YOU’RE UGLY ANYWAYS” message knows exactly what I’m talking about.

“It’s social conditioning,” says Sales — and it’s hurting all of us.

So, how do we escape the tyranny of the robots?

“I think the only answer in the current culture is to reject apps and not use them,” says Sales.

With that said, dating apps have become so ubiquitous that they feel like the only option for meeting people — especially in the era of social distancing.

But as Sales reminds us, we all have a choice.

“Your choice can be to say no.”

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

File source

Tags
Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button
Close