Consumption, in turn, “is driven by desire, and this desire is overwhelmingly gendered. Fashion, cosmetics, vehicles, homes, furnishings, gardens, food, leisure activities—all are extensions of the self” (Eckert & McConnell-Ginet, 2003, p. 29). An example of this kind of referencing would be the proportion of categories provided by Nerve’s profile form that are concerned with forms of consumption, from food to entertainment to clothing (see Appendix). A dating profile also styles its creator as a “product,” while showing what kind of “product” s/he is seeking (or what kind of subject/object s/he desires) in return. Thus while users are marketing themselves, a part of this promotionalism involves signalling what one chooses to consume, which in turn makes one worth consuming (as a “product”). In this kind of environment, it would seem unsurprising to find people objectifying potential partners as accessories, items to match to a chosen lifestyle.
The bulk of the profile form was under the heading “My additional details” and consisted of a series of 36 different text boxes designed to allow free-form responses. Each box provided a prompt in the form of a question or phrase, such as “The best or worst lie I’ve ever told,” “Five items I can’t live without,” or “How planned do you prefer a date to be?” The guiding phrases seemed designed to delimit possible responses and to “frame” the information the users provided, while providing space for an individualized answer.
The qualities referenced by profile authors are not always listed in a straightforward sequence of single words. In her profile, F6-36 implies an ability to transcend traditional stereotypes about women as helpless and dependent, with the comment that “I like to pick [up] my cordless drill, and put up a shelf or two once in a while.” An example of women’s desire for alternative versions of masculinity is written by F5-35, who selects what are generally considered to be “feminine” traits in her outline of what she desires in the “other”: she is looking for “inner beauty,” for someone who is not “afraid of communication,” and for someone who will share (his) feelings. Other users stuck to a more normative “script,” including M7-36, who states: “I love slow dancing with a lady, I love romance and surprise, and I love to spoil my partner and make her feel comfortable.” He expresses his ideas about his ideal partnership by elaborating with references to normative versions of male-female romance, such as those where the man “takes care of” the woman, and he references chivalry (note use of the word “lady”).
Feeld is an app for people who know what they want. It describes itself as a place to “meet open-minded couples and singles near you,” making it the premiere app for unicorns and those who want a more openly kink-friendly app experience. While that may sound pretty niche, Veronica*, 35, who lives in Queens, says Feeld became her favorite dating app. At the time of download, she was single and recovering from a bad breakup. She used Tinder and Bumble for regular dating, but hated the experience. “None of the men seemed cute enough, and a lot of them were exactly as gross and Air-Drop-a-dick-pic-slimy as the stereotypes go,” she explains.
POF doesn’t really offer a whole lot of unique features for you to take advantage of. The messaging feature with the ability to use your mic and send over voice recordings is probably the most standout feature. POF also has UltraMatch which offers up other users who match up best with you and who you are compatible with. It also goes Tinder on you with a swipe right or swipe left feature in the “Meet Me” section. Here you get to look at profile pictures of other members, and if you both click yes that you want to meet each other, it will show up in your matches.
In the larger Android dating market, Tinder doesn’t quite have things its own way. Despite sitting comfortably in second place with more than 20 million installs, London-based Badoo trumped it with more than 27 million installs overall on Android. While Tinder is coming under pressure in the dating game from Badoo, it should also keep a look out for an upstart dating service that is steadily climbing the charts. Happn, which helps you find love with people who you’ve literally crossed paths with during the day, is fifth in the global Android charts and third on iOS. That makes it one to watch in the coming years.
Coffee Meets Bagel does require logging in through your Facebook in order to create a profile. Once you’ve set up your profile and input your preferences, it will send you a few “bagels” a day — the profile of a potential match. You then have 24 hours to decide whether you want to “like” or “pass” on your bagel. If you like your bagel and they have also liked you, you’ll connect, meaning that you’ll be able to message one another in a private chat. That chat room expires after eight days, regardless of whether you’ve talked with your bagel or not. You can also earn “beans” that allow for extra app functions, either by purchasing them outright, recommending the app to your friends, or logging in on consecutive days.
There's even a specialized app for creative people looking to meet other artists and creators. Raya is free to download but then becomes membership-based. First, you fill out an application, which is then reviewed by a committee of people and an algorithm. You may be put on a waitlist for a short time while your application is reviewed. Once you're accepted, you need to sign up for a one-, three- or six-month auto-renewing membership plan. As a member, you also have to agree to a code of conduct in an effort to keep interactions respectful and cordial. As the website puts it, it believes using technology to meet someone should feel safe and exciting. Because of its exclusivity, the app has become well-known for its famous users. We weren't able to get a membership, but several blogs and reviews circulating online claim the app has been used by the likes of Cara Delevingne, Ruby Rose and Demi Lovato.