Misunderstanding dating apps from a far

"i saw you on tinder" Trastevere 2014

Tinder, tinder, Bloody Tinder!

Even now people keep going on about Tinder…

In the past I have been pretty down on Tinder and to be fair I still am, but its true people do meet, hit it off and even get married via Tinder. Of course I say the Birthday paradox is in play.

dating-against-humanity-48-638

The thing I keep hearing from people (usually in relationships) is tinder IS dating apps. When I tell them there is a new dating app/service every month, they never believe me. At a party on the weekend I tried to put into words why I use OkCupid and recommend other services over Tinder (yes I know they are owned by the same people).

The point I made is that unless you both swipe right, you can’t talk or get to know each other. Thats ignoring the fact men are more likely to swipe right, profiles are mainly pictures with little text and you can’t see the next person (grass is always greener beyond the swipe) unless you make a decision one way or another (gamification).

I insist the system of tinder encourages or even dictates playful interactions. This is fine if you like playing but not ideal if not. Its clear people are using Tinder to fill their time when bored or playing around with friends.

The tinder/hot or not system is setup that way, and the human behaviour follows suit. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it can work the other way but Tinder is strongly built with this mentality in mind. I am reminded of addiction by design, simple as this – tinder is built to maximum shallow activity. There’s no other way around that unless you pay them money.

Other services have similar systems (OkCupid has likes, POF has meetme, etc) but each one of theses have the ability to just see a user and message them. This subverts the tinder behavior but requires more effort like getting over your fear of rejection.

The key point I’m making is each service is different and requires a different way to look at it. For example Bumble although it does have the hot or not dynamic, the system is set up to give the women the control. As a result the behavior of the users is quite different?

It’s a mistake to think of Tinder as the de-facto dating app. It would be like thinking McDonalds was the de-facto of restaurants from those who are vegan!

Now that’s one scary thought, I think we would all agree?

I won’t even dig into why all these people with partners always want to get wrapped up in their single friends lives? Thats best left alone…

Tips for dealing with our unhealthy smartphone addiction?

Smartphones and shadows.

Originally I wanted to write a massive blog connecting the last blog about Thintelligenece, Tristan harris‘ essay reply, what I picked out of the quantified self, my thoughts following visiting Tokyo, Mark Manson’s smartphones are the new cigarettes and reading Alone together.

I found this from dating site review ages ago and it seems apt…

“The problem doesn’t lie with dating apps per se – technology in general is changing how we behave and interact. People are spending more time updating and commenting on their social media accounts than they are having actual conversations or meeting up with people IRL. Take a look at any bar or restaurant, and inevitably you see a group of people at a table, and none of them are talking to each other – they are staring at their phones.”

Theres a common theme that maybe our use of smartphones might not be all its cracked up to be? However I don’t really need to tell you this right? The amount of times I have walked into a lift in the last week, looked around to see glowing faces and no eye contact at all is quite scary as purely a thought experiment. I’m currently at about 90% looking at screens – if you were wondering.

Its quite easy to be slightly concerned, but I’m wondering why my phone usage pick up during the first day of the Quantified Self 2017 conference in comparison? Could there be something in the way I use my phone?

Quantified Self 2017
People put up their hands for how long they were on their phones during the conference

Not only this Aaron Parecki gave a talk about choices when choosing quantified self equipment or packages (as Justin said being things which are a mix of hardware, software and service). There seems to be some tips emerging between the 3 different sources.

So I thought I’d share them together.

smartphones looks

    • Lower the brightness, use some-kind of twilight mode or turn your screen to greyscale.
      As Tristan Harris says apps and operating systems are made to keep you looking and interacting for longer. They have this down to a science now. Theres also tons of research indicating that the blue light from LCD screens messes with your sleep routine, heck I swear by redshift and twilight. The greyscale is interesting too.
    • Turn off all sound and light alerts (vibrate will do)
      I’m totally shocked when I hear someones ring tone to be honest, I mean really? I turned off all notification lights from day one, so surprised when I see a flashing or strobing light on other peoples phones.
    • Turn off that stupid mode when it wakes up your phone screen to show you notifications.
      I always thought it was a iphone thing but seen it on Androids too. I honestly think so stupid as its battery zapping and ever so distracting. This also totally kills the doze mode on Android! Plus think about it, it lasts about 5 secs and if someone sends you a detailed message, you only get half the message forcing you to pick up the phone.

My Shadow

      • Put different apps on another phone, tablet device or smartwatch.
        My tablet is wifi only and has a very different set of apps and use. I also limit what kind of alerts I get on my pebble smartwatch, which also means I don’t need to look at my phone for the time. I had no idea the ipad doesn’t include a calculator? Each device is different and has a different purpose, there are apps which I wouldn’t dare put on my phone but I’d consider it for my tablet.
      • Don’t feel guilty for not picking up the phone!
        The guilt people put themselves under is out of control, no one will notice if you reply 5, 15, 30, 60mins later. You don’t need to reply straight away, unless you are expecting something or trying to get hold of someone.

    It Begins with Bonjour

    • Have some self-control
      Don’t use your phone as a (anti) social crutch; barrier between the physical world and you. I get the loneliness is a difficult and maybe social settings make you feel uncomfortable? But force yourself to be present in the moment, you might be missing an opportunity.
    • Don’t put your phone on the table
      I get it, Doze only works when your phone is flat and left alone for a while but since Android N it now works in your pocket. I use to do this all the time to save battery, at the end of a long conversation it would actually be stone cold! If you must, keep your screen facing down and don’t get tempted to unlock it (You should of course not have that stupid wake the screen up mode too!).
      smartphone
    • Think about your time as important
      It sounds silly when you think about it but our attention is finite and should be treated as important. When thinking about ourselves, we tend to put ourselves down, saying I’m no one special but to be frank we are important! Everyone of us are capable of such incredible things but not if we are all looking at our phones.
    • Think about what you are doing with your phone
      Are you simply filling time or doing something constructive with your time? No judgment about what you class as constructive but adding a like to a friends profile picture can wait. I recently tried to get a friend to do more constructive things with his phone but the continuous (endless/bottomless) stream of social notifications was too great it seems.
    • Stop with the selfies!
      Ok this is just my thing but if you can’t turn to a stranger and ask to take a picture, then something is seriously wrong! Live a little maybe that conversation might turn into something you wasn’t expected. Think about those Snapchat filters, encouraging you to act a certain way... Its not subtle but people get caught up in it and don’t think, and this is what the app maker wants from you. I’ll remind you of the fruit machine flow state which Natasha Dow Schüll, talks about in her book addicted by design.
      Smartphone
    • Stop with phone one upmanship
      I have seen too many times when someone shows something, then someone else pulls out their phone in response. Before long everyone has their phone out looking to out do each other. Theres even silence while everyone looks and pops up for social proof every once in a while.
  • Theres many more
  • …but that will do for now. If you can think of more, add a comment and I’ll likely do a updated blog with more soon.

Wellbeing is more important than checking your dating app

Woman looks at her phone wondering

I was reading no bad dates just good stories and read the point about Bumble.

Bumble is full of feminists?

And this is a problem why? Sweet Jesus, a dating app that puts women in the driving seat, whatever next? Quick guys, delete it – don’t let the vagina army overthrow your seat in power.

I liked the concept of Bumble, love to meet more female feminists being one myself and know there was a massive backlash from the manosphere (read with caution!). But it should be a dating site I’m regularly on.. but I’m not?

When I first signed up it was early and there was little people from around Manchester on it. Then suddenly there was a ton of supermodel type women showing up. Most men would have loved it. But something didn’t seem right, I couldn’t tell for sure but it felt like quite a lot might be fake (from previous experiences and what I’ve read, it certainly seemed possible)?

Fake profiles is a quick way to keep people on the site and interested, or keep them using the app?

Fake match profiles

That was off-putting but then they changed the terms so if a woman messaged a man, had 24 hours to reply. Encouraging/forcing you to look everyday at least. This for me is not the habit I can not see a positive outcome from. I understand some of the reasoning but it feels unsustainable, at least to my mind? I check my dating profile only once or twice a month (to be fair this is very low), unless I’m chatting with a woman or planning a date of course. I have to question the benefit to the people using Bumble vs their ability to tell investers they have a large number of uniques per day?

I have to say checking your dating app everyday can not be good for your wellbeing; be it bumble, okcupid, tinder, grindr, hinge, pof, etc. It leads to cognitive burnout, which is something a lot of regular daters talk about in different terms. This is why the idea of a online dating break is a real thing.

Cognitive burn-out

Regardless, I’m willing to give it another try, but frankly if it’s not a big improvement I’m not going back; another good idea executed badly in faviour of business? Maybe its time for total distruption as mentioned previously?

95 Theses of Geek Activism

In the vein of the cluetrain manfesto, Devanshu posted a great post with 95 points about geek activism. Honestly there pretty awesome, but here's my favorate…

  • Violating a license agreement is not theft.
  • All corporations are not on your side.
  • Everything will enter the public domain some day- even Mickey Mouse.
  • Trusted computers must not be trusted.
  • Proprietary data formats must never store public information.
  • Fair use is a good thing.
  • Use multiple operating systems regularly so you truly understand interoperability.
  • Data mining will not stop terror.
  • Express your opinion in public
  • Blog
  • Security is a trade-off- what are you willing to give up?
  • Use Creative Commons
  • Understand the difference between civil disobedience and breaking the law.
  • Support the free, public domain archives of information.
  • Undermine censorship by publishing information censored in oppressive countries.
  • Voicing your views in a Slashdot comment thread is good, in your own blog is better, but in places that non-geeks frequent is best.
  • Have a global perspective in ideas of geek civil liberties, intellectual property rights and so forth. Do you like your country’s policies in this respect? Can you help people from another country?
  • Read more
  • Make sure that if a vendor locks you in, you lock them out.
  • Linux is no longer a philosophy- it is a good piece of software. Use it if it fits your needs.
  • More information available to the most number of people is a good thing.
  • Vote
  • Read our modern geek philosophers- read Bruce Perens, Cory Doctorow, Bruce Sterling and even Richard Stallman. Read Schneier to find practical reasons why stupid security mechanisms are stupid. Read them even if you disagree with them- it will help frame your point of view.
  • DRM only keeps an honest user honest.
  • Be proud of being a geek, a gamer, a privacy advocate, promoter of free speech and an innovator without fear of litigation, of government or restrictions on liberties- a geek activist.

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