Bryce Dallas Howard lives in the future, becomes obsessed with her rating on a universal social media app, commits social suicide by pissing a lot of people off, and ends up in a prison cell screaming maniacally.
This particular episode, Nosedive, maybe wasn’t as thought-provoking as some of the ones that came before it, but it did have a pretty clear and indisputable message:
Caring too much about what others think of you is detrimental to your health, and a Trip Advisor for people would be bad.
In a lot of ways, social media has already become somewhat like this – who among us hasn’t measured our self-worth based on Instagram likes or retweets at least once? – and so has dating.
You create your profile, you add your filtered pics, and you present what you want to be the best version of yourself.
In a lot of ways it’s not too dissimilar to meeting someone organically. You want them to think you’re perfect, successful, and totally without fault, while wondering how long you can go before the wall comes down and all your flaws are exposed.
I decided long ago (two months), that I was going to delete my dating apps in a bid to address my dependancy-from-strange-men-on-the-internet based issues.
I thought that if I could exist without the constant need for matches or dates or questionable compliments from lads I didn’t know, I could prove something to myself.
That was until the day I was asked if I wanted to review a new dating app that lets women rate men and leave anonymous reviews of their dating experiences and I thought, yes – I definitely do.
The app is called ‘Once’ and the concept behind it is simple enough: people are permitted to anonymously rate their matches based on a range of criteria from how much they look like their profile pictures to their offline behaviour to their conversational skills.
What I did not know when I signed up for Once was that people were also going to be able to rate me.
This may seem like an obvious feature – after all, what’s the point in men being totally transparent if women don’t have to suffer the same fate? – but the idea of a stranger rating my photos, my chat, and my ability to reply within an appropriate amount of time (or, at all) didn’t sit all too well.
It’s a bit more like traditional online dating in that way – if someone sees your profile and they like what they see, they can ask to send you a message.
My first interaction came from a man called Jonathan. He requested to chat with me and even though I hadn’t expressed any desire to match with him, I accepted.
He sent me a message and immediately I knew that I had no interest in him. I didn’t respond and forgot about him for a few days.
Jonathan then sent me another message simply saying ‘hey.’ Being generally distracted by work, casual weekday drinks, and complaining about public transport, again I did not respond.
I didn’t know how he had found my Facebook but I was mildly creeped out so I blocked him, unmatched him on Once, and decided to leave him a negative review.
Turns out, I couldn’t because I had unmatched him and reviews only seem to work if you’ve actually chatted to someone for a bit, but at the end of the day, it didn’t matter.
I thought about it and came to the conclusion that if Jonathan could have left me a review, it would have been a negative one.
I didn’t reply to his messages, I blocked him on Facebook, I saw his advances as creepy instead of simply interested – and that was the problem.
While this behaviour is universally seen as creepy, unacceptable, and generally outside of the realm of appropriate dating etiquette, a lot of men simply do not realise this. At the same time too, neither do a whole load of women.
An interaction such as this might have been harmless enough – just an innocent person trying their luck – or it might not have been.
It’s impossible to know until it happens and before then, we either learn to make certain decisions to protect ourselves or we just go with it, depending on what kind of person we are and how willing we are to let others in.
This in itself isn’t all that shocking considering that in that time I’ve been in a few relationships – actively dating is a (relatively) new phenomenon for me, but when I do it I use dating apps as a crutch.
I tell myself that being able to suss out a person before I meet them makes me feel more comfortable. Tinder, as a vetting process, lets you sort the creeps from the sound lads, the boring from the interesting, the dangerous from the safe.
In theory, it should be entirely possible to wade through all the shit and only date people you know you are absolutely going to get on with, be attracted to, and have a nice time with.
Once is unlike Tinder or Bumble in that people don’t have to match with you in order to request a chat
Tinder, Once, and every other app out there are inaccurate representations of real people, but they’re also fairly accurate representations of the real world.
The ability to flag people for inappropriate offline behaviour is a welcome addition to the warped and often miserable world of online dating.
It lets women warn other women about bad experiences they’ve had with certain men, who had respect for them, and who didn’t.
In that way, it’s fairly similar to the way people been navigating the dating world for decades – setting their friends up with decent individuals, recommending mates of mates, and warning against the ones who are likely to cause harm.
Guys in clubs are just like guys online, and women in bars are the exact same as women on dating apps – you’re not going to know if you like them until you meet them, and you’re not going to know what they’re really like for a very long time
When it comes to the other things though – the less sinister aspects of a person – like their personality or their work ethic or whether they’re fun or smart or nice, it’s more complicated.