Is your dating app profile really you? Would you even want it to be?
The dating agency video was the mainstay of ’80s and ’90s sit-coms – a black VHS tape nervously shoved into the player would project a grey, noise-speckled image of their possible dream date onto the TV screen. Nervous under the camera light, they’d try to be serious, or funny, and either way credible. Then their time was up and the next uncomfortable but terribly real face would flash up on the screen. Edward. 41. VHS repairman.
It’s curious to think that this system was completely ridiculed at the time. A questionnaire plus a dating video ‘interview’ to make sure you click on an intellectual and also a personal level. And now that dating apps are totally ubiquitous, you have to ask yourselves: has 2000s technology improved upon ’80s design or, in fact, made it worse?
Aesthetics are not always attractive.
Seeing grainy footage of someone sweating under halogen lights in some drab ’80s office might actually be the sexiest photo on Tinder right now. Why? Because, hard as they try, they cannot hide. It’s unrehearsed, almost live. Like a date.
The almost hallucinatory self-delusion of users of apps like Tinder springs up when all the emphasis of a match is dumped on a profile photo. That’s when the creativity starts.
Suddenly, everyone’s an expert in photo angles and lighting, cutesy guys hide behind mountains of irony, forgetting that irony is invisible, and you realise that the Heart of Darkness is a duck-facing girl sat atop a camel in front of the pyramids.
Berlin dating app Fuse is attempting to change this.
Fuse is a new Berlin-based dating app whose motto is ‘Meet your date before you match’. It aims to be more personal and less facile, fling-gebruikersnaam fake, appearance-based (whether they look like that at all in reality). It does this by offering more possibilities to express yourself through your online dating profile.
Aside from basic profile photo and info, Fuse gives you the opportunity to express yourself through text fields, images and audio recordings. Visiting someone’s Fuse profile is more like looking into their personal Myspace pages, as it’s a curated exhibition of what that person wants to show you about themselves.
Fuse states: “We’re here to match modern technology with your analogue world”, which is why their audio-recording function is something they wildly vaunt… because the role a voice plays in attraction – the tonality, intonation, accent, lexical choices, even the way they end every sentence with ‘fucken’ – isn’t something explored by other big dating apps, and might be the thing that leads you to finding your dream match.
“We’re not our selfies.”
I agree with Fuse: we’re not our selfies. But with that in mind, selfies are still the backbone of Fuse.
They’re the first impression you get of a possible match, they’re still the mainstay of the ‘Zoom’ section where people can upload photos on pre-assigned themes (food porn etc.), where even ‘shoeselfie’ is a photo option. Shoeselfie.
And while yeah, Fuse does give a broader look into a person than Tinder, it’s still baby-steps towards the goal of meeting someone before you date them.
Sure, it has replaced the superficial profile photo with various other options, including text boxes, lifestyle photos and voice recordings to help your prospective suiter get a much more rounded, personal and intimate impression of you.
Although, Fuse does choose all the questions and topics for you to answer, instead of letting you do it yourself – diminishing the ability to shine as that glittering, unique star you’re told you are.
But Fuse is still currently in the investment and development phases and is on the right path to improving dating apps. The team are working towards building a product they themselves would be proud to use… to proudly exclaim: yes, I met them on Fuse, instead of: we met fighting over that last hot wing at KFC (or one of the countless other lies we tell ourselves and others on a daily basis).
Sadly, that ability to be you – not necessarily the you you think you are, or want to be, or accidentally are, but the you you actually are – is still lost in the far-off technology of 1980.