The thread took off. Morgan enjoyed the good mood when he saw people get along with each other – “I love love!” – and enjoyed the real-life connections he managed to make: numerous meetings in his hometown of Portland, Oregon; someone who was thinking of flying to meet someone in New York for the subject; even a short connection. Even today, people continue to add their photos to the subject, looking for love throughout the United States.
If this seems a bit like an old-fashioned matchmaking, that’s right. But it’s far from the gossipy grandmothers who make appointments. These operations are often ad hoc, based on platforms such as Twitter and TikTok and – unlike dating apps, with their endless menu of eligible suitors – hyperfocused on one person at a time.
Play by mail
Randa Sakala starts Hot singles in December 2020 to decide his own blues for meetings. She had just moved to New York to work in technology and was “tired of rolling.” So she created an email newsletter using the Substack platform, which had a seemingly simple premise: apply through Google Form to be represented, and if you are, your account – and yours alone – is sent to thousands of people.
Yes, each profile contains the necessary information: name, sexual orientation, interests and some photos. But most importantly, there is a crooked editorial bias that comes from Sakalah’s questions and email presentation. Single this week, for example, they ask what animal she would be; the answer is somewhere between a peacock and a sea otter. (My main goals in life are to eat, hold hands, and maybe splash a little, she writes.)
Sakala says part of the appeal of Hot Singles is that only one person’s profile is delivered by email on Friday. It’s not a stream of potential individuals available on demand, she says, which makes it possible to really enjoy getting to know a person as a human being, rather than algorithmically offered statistics.
“I’m trying to tell a story and give them a voice,” says Sakala. “You really want to think about the whole person.”
Dating apps can be quick and easy to use, but critics say their design and focus on images reduce people to cartoons. Morgan, who launched the long-running Twitter thread, is a black woman who says the experience in the dating app can be exhausting because of her race.
“I had friends who had just put up their photo and emoji and they were going to make someone ask them to drink coffee so quickly,” she said. In the meantime, “I need to put more work into my account and write paragraphs.” The results of her efforts were either not read or attracted many awkward, racist comments. “It was disappointing,” she says.
Combing different itching
The fatigue of dating apps has a number of sources. There is a paradox of choice: you want to be able to choose from a wide variety of people, but that variety can be exhaustingly huge. In addition, the geographical parameters that are usually assigned to such applications often actually worsen the dating group.
Alexis Germany, a professional matchmaker, decided to try videos on TikTok during the pandemic to show people and find them extremely popular – especially among people who do not live in the same place.
“What makes you think your man is in your city?” Germany says. “If they are away by car or on a short plane trip, it can work.”