Dating apps have their downside, but exploiting women through pop psychology and a sense of male entitlement is not the superior alternative
I watched Hack Lives roundtable on 21st century dating with my housemate. Each time someone defended Tinder with a success story, my housemate twisted round from the next couch to grin at me. At one point we fist-bumped.
We are a Tinder success story, of sorts. We met after swiping right on each other in June last year. It was at once apparent that romance was not on the cards, but we became friends.
This September, just after our first anniversary of meeting, we moved in together. I get annoyed when he eats my yoghurt; he eats too much yoghurt. It could not be more domestic.
But we continue to endure ribbing about our origin story, even though connections of this kind cannot be unusual. According to Hack Live, 15% of the Australian population uses Tinder the most per capita of any country. Thats up from about 5% in 2014.
In the intermittent two years, my older sister got engaged to her Tinder date, and my little sister celebrated her 757th match.
Dating apps not so long ago thrilling, risqu and slightly shameful are well and truly mainstream. Youre about as likely to encounter Tinder, Happn, Bumble or Hinge on someones phone as you are Candy Crush, and its just as interesting to talk about.
The only people for whom Tinder has any dangerous fascination are either older, in relationships, or both. Consciously or otherwise, this must have been the imagined audience for Hack Live, which portrayed Tinder mostly negatively responsible for either the death of modern romance, or deaths full stop.
With a fact sheet reading like an episode of Law & Order: SVU, the so-called Tinder trial of Gable Tostee fascinated the media and the public. He first connected with Warreina Wright, the woman who fell to her death from the balcony of his 14th-floor apartment, via Tinder. But he reportedly had a track record of preying on women in the nightclubs near his home on the Gold Coast.
He was just creepy, said one bar manager of him in 2014.
Wright may not have met Tostee had it not been for Tinder. But Tostee would have met other women and, cleared of wrongdoing, will assumedly continue to do so strangers go home together all the time.
If youre out to identify risk factors for sexual assault, violence or death, the big one is being a woman. You could narrow it down further to: Being a woman who knows a man.
To suggest Tinder puts women at risk as Hack Live did, and much other commentary of the Tostee trial before it is misleading.
For every Tinder-facilitated meet-up that ends in violence or tragedy, there are many, many more that end in a slightly awkward moment at the cash register and the mutual, unspoken agreement that further contact would not be necessary.
Its not the technology itself that poses the risk, its the predators using it and in the absence of dating apps, they will find a way.
Arguing against Tinder on Hack Lives panel was Jonathan Sankey, a Sydney lawyer and pick-up artist sorry, dating coach, who believes himself to be making the world a better place.
Im not even paraphrasing. I have no doubt in my mind that Im making the world a better place by doing what Im doing, he said in a segment in which he taught a disheartened Tinder battler how to approach women on the street.
Sankeys company is called Seduce in Seconds, founded to pursue simplicity, speed and laziness in formulating ways to pick up girls. If footage of one of his early forays posted to YouTube is representative, his approach is more a matter of excruciating minutes.
In the clip, Sankey isolates the target his words from her friend in public, then plants a kiss on her as she moves to block his chest with her forearm.
I dont want average-looking guys like myself to look at hot women as a luxury, because its so easy, he says.
The video published late October, viewed more than 280,000 times was broadcast to groans from the Hack Live audience.
Thats a terrible video, thats eight years old, says Sankey, as though it was the crudeness of his approach that was embarrassing, not his intent.
He has refined his tactics in the years since (starting with replacing his waistcoat with a blazer), and he says Tinder is bringing about the death of modern romance.
I think that societys going to shit, to be honest with you, because of all these apps. … I think theres something to be said for having to work up the courage, as a man or a woman, to go up and approach people in real life.
You might agree with him until you learn that Sankeys approach is based on four core principles of counter-intuitiveness, push/pull, indifference, and playfulness. Pick-up artistry is straightforward manipulation, founded on misogyny, to achieve your own end Seduce in Seconds promise is a kiss in under 12 minutes.
Really sets the heart on fire, doesnt it?
These views are widespread, and Sankey is small fry; the highest-profile practitioners, such as Julien Blanc, have their travel restricted because of their views. They will say its based on an understanding of human nature, but theres no relationship of equals that can come of one that began as predator-prey. Just watch Sankeys eyes turn black when any female panellist suggests his cold approach would be anything but welcome.
I just felt a bit invaded, said one of the young women approached by Sankeys hapless protege.
Id take the apps, to be honest.
Of course setting up real-life approaches versus dating apps is a straw man, and there are definite downsides to Tinder the most obvious being the paralysis induced by choice. But exploiting women through pop psychology and a sense of entitlement is not the superior alternative.
Dating apps at least put you in the drivers seat. You dont need to respond to, or meet anyone you dont want to. You can search them on Google and check out mutual friends.
Above all, they are a space for dating that you opt into and control: where you can signal your interest and intention, as opposed to having someone force theirs on you when youre out in public.
As for Sankeys suggestion that connections made on dating apps arent authentic meetings, I have an empty tub of yoghurt in my fridge to the contrary.