The most dramatic change in online dating since I started has been the birth of mobile apps, which ultimately led to the feature “swipe right or swipe left.” OKCupid and Tinder were quick to change the face of dating, making it easier than ever to quickly make a microdecision about compatibility.Rather than scrolling through a vertical stream of potential matches, mobile apps made the experience like playing cards.So where does that leave a person conscious of her time and attention, but also looking for partnership and love in the age of apps? Reflection has led me to far better perspectives than mindless swiping. Count how many minutes or hours you’re using them each week, and take some moments to reflect on how you feel.
I’ve even drawn my own wireframes and written a manifesto for the dating app I would build. I’m a New Yorker and a self-starter, and, as such, I’m always trying to optimize how I spend my time. In the past year, I decreased my usage of the apps fairly significantly.I despise swiping, mostly because of that subtle feeling in the pit of my stomach I get every time I make a “decision” about compatibility.As a meditator and person interested in our neurology, I believe we have a decision-making bank each day; if we’re using up the bank on microdecisions about other people in the search for love (or lust), how are our other decisions affected? If our time is a scarce resource, then minding the amount of time we spend on dating apps should ostensibly be paramount.Less philosophically, should I have really swiped left on that one? A Vanity Fair piece on Tinder, swiping, and hookup culture went viral last year, with the thesis that swiping and mobile app dating is ruining modern sex, dating, romance, and even possibly love. Yet time spent on dating apps isn’t the same as time spent playing mobile games or checking your Facebook feed, right?What if that was one of the people and partners with whom I’d truly enjoy life? What if my Instagram (linked to all of my dating app accounts) isn’t good enough at conveying how cool/kind/curious/ambitious/great I am? And Justin Mc Leod, founder of the popular swiping app Hinge, wrote recently that the swiping interface is “designed to keep you single,” with an emphasis on matching rather than messaging, on targeting the masses and treating users as cards in a “slot-machine interface.” He also noted that his company wants to do something about it, and is launching a new, swipe-less version of Hinge: “We believe technology has incredible potential to help people find compatible partners with which they can form successful relationships. Dating apps require a more Machiavellian approach; the time spent isn’t just for pleasure in that moment but rather for pleasure later, or, for some, longer-term results.