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Swipe right to be upper middle class

Swipe right to be upper middle class

WORDS BY ALEXI BARNSTONE

Meeting people of romantic interest has always been hard and stressful. For most, approaching a random is accompanied by a sickening feeling in their gut and a bead of sweat on their brow. Luckily, in today’s tech riddled dystopia, we have easier ways of setting up sexual connections. Humanity and its genius has derived all new ways of streamlining superficiality. We have reinvented survival of the fittest in an entirely new millennial context, a paradigm we might dub survival of the photogenic. Recent polls have found that up to 70% of millennials are using Tinder. An app that enables us to flick through potential partners, filtering based on values so shallow only the high tide wets the sand. 

And now, new applications of a similar mechanism are beginning to gain popularity. But every new product must have a point of difference to make an impact in the market, and some of these new apps simply attack a whole new dimension of inherently disgusting human tendency. Take for example an application that has spiked in popularity recently, The League. While Tinder champions the shallow, The League champions the elite. It offers an easy way of filtering potential partners based on annual income, education and location. Predominantly the app is used by single college graduates in metropolitan areas. Roughly 30% of its users are Ivy league graduates.

So… what? One could argue that people hold those values irrespective of whether the application exists or not, and that people would choose partners based on the same criteria anyway. The application is nothing more than a mechanism that streamlines the dating process using preexisting personal criteria. It appears a sound argument. However, it fails to look at the bigger picture. Streamlining dating based on education and wealth goes hand in hand with streamlining inequality. Connecting college graduates combines their earning potential, which is far higher than high school graduates, and the percentage of college graduates that marry each other is increasing steadily every year. The last generation had to at least talk to people to find out their circumstance, we can skip this step all together. Thiswill reduce the risk of fraternizing with people in a different socioeconomic class, and protect against cross contamination. 

These types of applications also have educational effects. When an app that filters people based on a specific criterion becomes a social norm, people will begin to view the world through the prism of that application. Not only will people use the app because that is where their values lie, but others will learn that those are the values upheld by society when pursuing romance. Wealth and education become a prerequisite. Care, compassion and love come second. Tinder shifts our consensus on what constitutes romance away from intrinsic qualities and toward physical attributes. The League does one better, and emphasizes an appreciation of a materialistic existence, creating a feedback loop of elitism. 

Contrary to romantic sentiment love seems to have conditions. Conditions we have, without being fully conscious of the fact, ordained through the use of technological filtration mechanisms. These applications will reinforce our elitism, inequality, and streamline our ability to segregate. 

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