BLK & Bumble: A Toe in the Pool of Dating Apps
Valentine’s Day is almost here, Kings and Queens. For some it will be a day of love, tokens of affection, and romance. For others, namely the silver-lining-seeking singles like me, it will be a day of self-love, reflection, and self-care. It’s funny, I can remember times in which I rolled my eyes at every visual reminder of Valentine’s Day because I didn’t have a significant other to share it with. Clouded by envy and self-loathing, I would carry a Scrooge-like attitude toward the whole occasion.
Now, thanks to maturity and a heightened sense of comfort with myself, I am as content with getting to shower myself with love as I am seeing others shower each other. However, in the spirit of enlightenment and good humor, I also have a story to tell.
Although I am single and satisfied, I do have random periods of time in which I get an itch to explore dating options. If the right candidate presented themselves tomorrow I’d be all for companionship, but the way my local dating pool is set up, I usually make it a point to not hold my breath or worry about it. I’m not one to stress about not being with anybody because I really prefer quality over sheer presence, but I did recently find myself a bit bored with solitude. So what did I do? On a whim, I decided to try out several online dating apps (because what do I really have to lose?) to get a better idea of who’s out there in my area.
I previously experienced the hormone-driven atrocity that is Tindr in its genesis, and already knew what it’s about, so this time I decided to try out two different apps: BLK and Bumble.
BLK is a dating app clearly targeting Black singles while Bumble is one that uniquely counters societal norms by requiring women to make the first move when matched with men. Both apps utilize the familiar Swipe Left/Swipe Right method introduced by Tindr, but contrary to most, Bumble boasts different options for users to seek romantic, friendly, and professional networking connections.
In the spirit of Valentine’s entertainment, the remainder of this post will be a dedicated synopsis of my reaction and experiences with both apps. Get your popcorn, enjoy, and let me know what you think of dating apps in 2019!
First Impressions: Ooooh! Great, something for Black millennials! (Not going to lie, the marketing materials/ads got my hopes up for a millisecond)
Experience: I was significantly underwhelmed. The app is full of old men, lizard descendants, and a whole lot of hood folks. Recurring thought: When did men in their late 20s and early 30s start looking so old?! I quickly exhausted all the Louisville options by swiping left (no surprise there) so I began getting lots of profiles from Cincinnati and Indianapolis. This platform yielded very few matches, and even fewer conversations. The app is free, and offers users options to pay for a “Boost” to their account.
Conclusion: I am not at all surprised that the BLK app only has 2.8 stars in the iOS App Store and ranks at #76 on its Social Networking charts. Lizard descendants, hoes, and druggies, Oh my!
First Impressions: Oh cool, women make the first move with matches.Nice, people can also link their Instagram and Spotify accounts.Damn, there are hella white men holding up fish on here! Is there anybody Black on here?? Oh, there’s one…Okay, are there any Black men my age on here???
Experience: I used the free version of Bumble, although users do have the option to pay for a premium “Boost” subscription which allows users to see everyone who has swiped right for them, extend matches by 24 hours (they normally expire after 24 hours if a move isn’t made), and rematch with expired matches. The more I used the app, the more I slowly began to see more Black men and men of color (MoC). I saw several former high school classmates, but also noticed that more users seemed to align with my professional and education level on Bumble vs. BLK. The slow appearance of MoC exposed my need to check my bias and be more open minded in examining the exterior of people in the dating pool. Redacted. Many white males on the app had group profile pictures, especially with their Black friends making it less easy to to determine who the profile belonged to at first glance.
Conclusions: These fools still ain’t it, no matter how polished they try to look. F***boys come in all forms, even when they’ve cleaned up nicely. Everybody says they want love and a relationship, but most just want the P. Nice looking sites may seem to yield better, more frequent results, but ultimately the problems in certain markets will remain the same. In Louisville, KY, this means tons of young men who lack maturity, commitment, communication skills, and the ability to converse below the surface level of small talk, sex, and 2K19. One special someone was so obnoxiously asenine that he gets his very own spotlight in my next blog post, screenshots included. So stay tuned for that post tomorrow for V-Day.
In conclusion, my brief re-entry into the online dating space has taught me two major things:
While there is nothing wrong with seeking love, lust, or whatever you’re looking for online, if you’re seeking a serious connection, it is important to be cognizant of the likelihood that your needs may not be met by trying to seek out potential partners online exclusively. For those interested in dating for actual serious and healthy relationships, know that you will likely still need to rely more on face-to-face connections to find a compatible partner.
Though we have grown as a society to rely on technology for many things, the fact still remains that computers can only do so much concerning matters of the heart. The probability of finding a soul mate or close significant other is slim.
There is a serious need to re-evaluate and adjust the way that we are raising up Black boys into becoming Black men. I will expand on this more in my next post detailing my experience with a local 27 year old, but I will say this: While I am well aware of the institutional forces which have existed to alter the presence of exemplary Black men within the community and the Black family dynamic—thus negatively influencing some boys’ exposure to good examples—those of us still in their lives have a responsibility to ensure that the toxicity taught through mass media images does not outweigh our active participation in teaching them to be men of quality and valor. Unfortunately, it is far too often that young Black men online make it clear that they were never taught the values of chivalry, effective communication, or mutual respect for the women with whom they interact.
As far as I’m concerned, this whole experience can be summed up in one sentence:
Love isn’t dead, but she’s rarely on the Internet.
Be observant. Be cautious. Stay Kultured.