I haven’t even tapped on a single photo yet when—brrring—a new message appears: “Wassup?
” I ignore it and return my attention to the sea of forty-five-year-old men with usernames like “Drunky.” Anyone worth messaging in here? I’m seeing so many men with questionable facial hair that I double-check my profile to make sure that I haven’t accidentally indicated a preference for goatees. I scream and toss the phone to the other end of the couch, as if this action will repel the men within it.
Around the time that Blendr launched in September, 2011, I wrote a short article declaring that the app was destined to fail.
Summoning partners up, at the click of a mouse or, indeed, the simple swipe of a mobile phone screen.
Jonathan meets two twenty-somethings, Garry and Sam, who are using a mobile phone app to find dates.
If my own reaction is any indication, it’s no wonder.
After my initial session, I only opened the app to show it to friends, scrolling through pages and pages of unappealing men in what resembled a masochistic digital-age performance-art piece titled “Why I’m Single.” In truth, though, I tried Blendr not to find love, but at the behest of a bevy of Web developers.
Since airing my skepticism, I’ve received an e-mail or Facebook message every couple of months from a male entrepreneur who wants to pick my brain about how to make a location-based dating app appeal to women.
“Blendr is generally useless, and there is a huge, untapped market for a hookup app for straights (or everyone other than gay men, really),” one of them wrote to me.
I don’t have much time to think about it—brrring brrrring—because two new messages arrive in the chat window. Even though I know these men can’t see my exact location, I feel cornered, overwhelmed.
Blendr is the most high-profile of a series of new location-based dating apps for straight people.
Such is the popularity of dating sites now that a whole host of niche sites have sprung up in recent months, catering for a wide range of people from bikers to cat lovers and from naturists to clowns.
And we delve into the murkier side of love online when Jonathan meets Ryan Pitcher who has a remarkable insight into the reality of how some websites work.
In this Tonight Special, Jonathan Maitland examines whether that change is for better…or for worse.