As long as we’ve had computers, we’ve been trying to use them for sexual gratification. Don’t pretend there wasn’t a stack of punch cards at the ENIAC lab that didn’t flash Morse code for “Boobs”. But now, in the modern era, those of us looking for empty sex can now use, or rather try to use, a hook-up app.
OK, so hook-up apps aren’t new. Ask anybody who has actually gotten sex from Craigslist. But they’re apparently new enough to merit an amusing trend piece from the New Yorker (EDIT: New York Magazine, actually, see below) that’s actually simultaneously hilarious and sad. First, it talks about Pure, an app programmed by the Wild And Crazy Guys:
“We wanted an easy way to find sex, basically,” says Sidorenko. But the two friends (who describe themselves as “pomosexuals”) were too impatient to use the available dating apps on the market, all of which required them to spend hours flirting with potential flings via chat or text message before getting a date and, possibly, sealing the deal.
First of all, calling yourself a pomosexual is pretty much the intellectual version of a spray-on tan. Secondly, yeah, it’s really terrible how you have to demonstrate to another human being that you are not going to pull a furry costume out of your closet or try to lure them into a van before they’ll have sex with you.
Easy hookup apps aren’t new — Grindr has been a staple of the gay community since 2009, and there has been a parade of copycats in the years since — but the success of Tinder and Bang With Friends seems to have pushed the idea into the hetero mainstream and attracted the interest of high-profile investors.
Tinder and Bang with Friends are basically the same app, made by pretty much exactly the kind of people that you would expect. Essentially, you can use the app to look at your Facebook friends, or friends of their friends, pick the ones who you’d voluntarily have sex with, and if they use the app, they can also choose whether or not you’re bangable. If you both are willing to rub uglies, the app lets you know.
In other words, they’re catnip to journalists who either want to wave sex in your face without admitting it, or wring their hands about the State of Modern Society. In fact, even New York Magazine plays this game: You have to read pretty far into the article to find this little nugget:
The founders of Pure, whose website and investor deck are filled with feminine imagery and sex-positive language, say they’re starting out by marketing to “men who have sex with men,” but hope to break into the straight, bi-, and polyamorous markets soon after launch.
One thing notably missing from all the discussion is whether or not these apps work. Really, the only hookup app with any real demonstrable success has been Grindr; the “straight” version, Blendr, tanked. Being happily engaged, I haven’t used these apps, so I took an informal poll of my single friends, male and female, gay and straight, and came up with, well, bupkiss; most of them hadn’t heard of these apps and when I had to explain them, basically they all said the same thing: No.
More interestingly, the gay men I polled (three, so it’s not really a scientific poll) said they didn’t use Grindr. Either a hookup had gone bad, or there was an urban legend about a hook-up having gone bad, or they were uncomfortable with the implications of the app. The legends were interesting too, mostly along the lines of “I walked in and it was an ex-gay minister” or “His wife showed up” or “He was a prostitute.”
Keep in mind, all of this is built around perception, not reality. “Hook-up culture” is largely B.S., and notice that, for example, nobody ever mentions lesbians. Apparently lesbians are not into one-night stands. At all! Ever! They all move in together on the third date!
Realistically, the online dating industry is not built around results: It’s built around the hope of results. These apps really just distill that down to its essence. But, hey, in the meantime, you might as well give a magazine something to be shocked about.
EDIT: A quick mea culpa, here: I confused the New Yorker and New York Magazine. Apologies for any confusion I may have caused.