We’re living in a world of constant revolutions.
Although you can fairly point out that issues are sparkling in every area of society, you can also see that, deep down, everybody wants things to get fairer. More inclusive. More accepting.
However, dating apps (or at least, most of them) don’t seem to be catching up to this. In fact, they might just be pulling us in the opposite direction.
No, Tinder doesn’t want what’s best for you.
Deep down, we all know that our generation’s greatest mental health struggle has come with social media. As it turns out, and we discovered this maybe a bit too late, having 24/7 access to all your friends’ and acquaintances’ happiest (real or not) moments as you go through the motions of everyday human life makes your circumstances feel utterly miserable.
The main idea behind technology should be to help us live better, not to take the place of important experiences in life.
And, of course, as everything in and around social media revolves around optimisation, dating apps simply go ahead and ride whatever wave social media giants are. Linking to Facebook? Well, why not Instagram as well. Stories and status updates? You bet. All of this with more apparent incentives than social media giants themselves.
Just as we can’t help but compare ourselves to what we see in social media, measuring others’ happiest moments against our routine, dating apps take this to an extreme. Validating or hurting our self-perception in the same ways Instagram does, while at the same time pulling the strings of our sexual and social needs, we’re only left to craft a persona that fits what the app’s internal engineering wants us to do.
But, what would happen if we did things differently?
There is no shortage of dating apps in the market, although we can say with a degree of confidence that most of them are (sadly) based on Tinder. To avoid making this a list of apps for love-seeking, we’ll focus on a new one that recently caught our attention, and that we think exemplifies the direction the dating app industry should follow: Jigsaw.
Example of a randomised-picture profile on Jigsaw. This is all two users that haven’t matched can see about each other
Jigsaw doesn’t allow users to match directly or to see each other before the match. Instead, within the app, users can only filter for others with the features that they’re looking for (e.g. type of relationship they’re seeking, body type, interests, etc.) Users are then presented with a series of randomised pictures to select one, to connect with, and can only do so after each one of them answers a multi-option question of the others’ choice.
This process follows what digital dating should do: A mixture of the qualities and possibilities technology brings while retaining the human component. If Tinder leads to so many matches that go nowhere, it is precisely because a system optimised for looks and pictures misses the spark of randomly meeting someone you discover you like. Or connecting spontaneously with a stranger over a silly topic you both find entertaining. In this sense, Jigsaw highlights the fact that dating apps should stress the connection part (what everyone is really in for) and save the (inevitably important, but often trivial) physical appearance as the cherry on top of a (gluten-free) cake.
Now, we don’t mean to say that everyone in tech should stop what they’re doing and be more like this single dating-app maker, but it is, for a change, refreshing to see a human approach to do things that seem to be set in stone.
Which leads us to…
We are still in tech’s primitive roots.
As humans, we’re just getting acquainted with the technology that we have in our hands. We are not unlike our ancestors, first discovering how to use fire or tools.
Our future as societies (and maybe even as a species) will be shaped by those that find ways to digitalise what makes us intrinsically human, instead of re-circling gimmicks to make us addicted and generate profit. We strongly believe in the need for initiatives that push through conventionalities to offer different, less optimised but more natural experiences.
Perhaps in the future, just as we exemplified here with dating, technology will be thought of as something that takes human experiences and makes them convenient without breaking them. We know that social media, food, and marketing (perhaps above all things) would benefit from an approach that privileges the good things about the living experience.
Just as it should be.