The thread has come off. Morgan basked in the feel-good atmosphere, watching people find each other – “I love love! someone who, because of the thread, thought of flying out to meet someone in New York; even a short relationship. Even today, people all over the United States are still adding their pictures to the thread looking for love.
If this feels a bit like old-fashioned matchmaking, it is. But it’s a long way from gossiping neighborhood grandmothers dating. These operations are often ad hoc, based on platforms like Twitter and TikTok and – in contrast to the dating apps with their endless selection of suitable applicants – are hyper-focused on one person.
Play by mail
Randa Sakallah launched Hot Singles in December 2020 to solve her own dating blues. She’d just moved to New York to work in tech and was fed up with mopping. So she created an email newsletter with the Substack platform, which had a seemingly simple premise: apply using the Google form to be featured, and when you are, your profile – and only yours – will be featured sent to an audience of thousands.
Yes, each profile contains the required information: name, sexual orientation, interests and some photos. But crucially, it has an ironic editorial touch, stemming from Sakallah’s questions and the email presentation. For example, this week’s single is asked what animal it would be; The answer lies somewhere between a peacock and a sea otter. (“My main goals in life are snacking, holding hands, and maybe splashing around,” she writes.)
Sakallah says part of the appeal of hot singles is that only one person’s profile is emailed to on Friday. It is not a question of a stream of potential faces on demand, which makes it possible to really enjoy getting to know a single person as a person, and not an algorithmically offered statistic.
“I try to tell a story and give it a voice,” says Sakallah. “You really want to think of the whole person.”
Dating apps may be quick and easy to use, but critics say their design and focus on images turn people into cartoons. Morgan, who started the longtime Twitter thread, is a black woman who says the dating app experience can be taxing because of her race.
“I’ve had friends who just posted their photo and an emoji, and someone invited them over for coffee so quickly,” she said. “I should put more work into my profile and paragraphs in the meantime.” The results of their efforts were either not read or attracted a number of unpleasant, racist comments. “It was frustrating,” she says.
Scratching another itch
Dating app fatigue has a number of sources. There is the paradox of choice: you want to be able to choose from a variety of people, but that variety can be paralyzingly overwhelming. Also, the geographic parameters that are usually set for such apps degrade the dating pool.
Alexis Germany, a professional matchmaker, decided to try TikTok videos to showcase to people during the pandemic and found them extremely popular – especially with people who don’t live in the same place.
“What makes you think your person is in your town?” Germany says. “If they’re a car ride or a short plane trip away, it might work.”