We might not be so shallow when we use them
The world of dating apps is notoriously shallow, most work with the idea of saying “yes” or “no” to someone in seconds, off of the basis of a photo. Apps have gone as far as to rank you on how hot you are or count your Instagram followers.
Some dating apps have launched campaigns to try to combat the aforementioned problem of racism, misogyny and fatphobia, like Grindr’s “Kindr” campaign, banning discriminatory users and putting out some celeb-y videos that promote inclusivity. “I thought we were going to see more of that but we haven’t,” comments Friend. “I find that really surprising because we see still so much hate on these apps and brands really need to find solutions.”
Rakowski’s Personals app, which is currently in beta testing, is trying to combat this by only catering to queer people, people of colour and gender-nonconforming people. She is also building an app that, much like the Insta account it's based on, focusses on text over pictures. “It's basically swapping the idea of judging a photo, not having any context of that person, and swiping.” In the beta-app, you can read a person’s ad and DM them without seeing what they look like: “That it’s not based on looks first and foremost can be deeper, or it can free people from thinking that they have a certain type.”
Until more apps find ways to both police unkind behaviour and harness algorithms that do not reinforce traditional notions of “beauty”, Friend thinks we will continue to hold one another to a behavioural standard. Think of the iconic girl who got an ASOS campaign because she Tweeted about the prick who said her ASOS dress looked like “a charity shop job”; artist BoiHugo who makes work about racism towards Asian men on Grindr; and humorous call out accounts like @Swipes4daddy and beam_me_up_softboi, which also – as Friend adds – help to erode the stigma around using dating apps more broadly, by making them feel less like a serious pursuit, and more of a lol or a way to pass the time.
We'll be less concerned about ‘the one’
“There’s a tradition we have in the queer community, that you have to come out as monogamous,” jokes Rakowski. According to The Future Laboratory's recent report “Uncoupled Living”, she might be onto something: increasingly, being single or in a non-traditional relationship won’t have such bad connotations. In the future, we might not be living in a world where the ultimate goal is marriage or starting a family.
“In the future, there will be greater room for fluidity in a relationship in much the same way we currently see fluidity in gender,” explains Friend. “In other words, we’re better understanding the idea that different relationships have different benefits, more so than the one relationship that we’re told will be self-fulfilling or improve our sense of self.”
The stats back this up: according to census data, in the UK, since 1971, the number of people who live alone has increased by 10 per cent and the average age that people marry has moved from 22.6 for women and 24.6 for men to 30.8 and 32.7 years. In the US, 44 per cent of Americans under 30 indicated they might be open to trying relationships outside monogamy.
“From feedback, we’ve learnt that a lot of people who are tired of trying to fit into a box want to explore and see what else is out there” – Ana Kirova, Feeld
“Studies saying that women in particular that aren’t in a relationship are actually happier than anyone else,” adds Friend. “And when we spread our love and emotions across many people; friends, family, maybe people we’re seeing.”
Feeld is an app that champions this idea. “It was more catered for couples who just wanted dates while still being together,” says Ana. “So basically people in open relationships. But it turns out more people than we thought are challenging traditions.” Here, Ana gives Willow Smith as an example, who has publicly said she is into men and women and open to a poly relationship. “From feedback, we’ve learnt that a lot of people who are tired of trying to fit into a box want to explore and see what else is out there,” says Kirova.