For more than a year, people struggled with the isolation and boredom of pandemic lockdown. They coped with this radical change to daily life by spending a hell of a lot more time online: We doubled our digital consumption in 2020, and it’s not like we weren’t addicted to the internet before we learned about COVID-19. Those who wanted to brave the virus by carrying on with a robust dating life were more dependent than ever on online channels of connection. Tinder, OkCupid and Bumble saw record-breaking activity from the moment the first restrictions went into place — not everyone was meeting in person, but the desire rang out loud and clear.
The U.S. now finds itself at a confusing crossroads. Half the population is fully vaccinated, while a quarter will likely never accept the life-saving drugs. The Delta variant, a “supercontagious” strain of the coronavirus, is causing an uptick in cases, but state and local governments have muddled through efforts to reimpose mask mandates and the like (when they’ve bothered to do anything at all). It seems that the average citizen has no interest in going back to a state of semi-quarantine; we’ve been released, and we’re making the most of that freedom. The situation raises all kinds of logistical problems and concerns, most of them well above my pay grade. Instead, as the adult population lives out their hot vax slutty summer, come hell or high water, I want to examine a long-running but totally meaningless argument about hookup culture: Is Twitter a dating app or not?
As you can see, users tend to feel strongly one way or the other, and where you land comes down to gut instinct. You’re either comfortable flirting with your mutuals, and allowing for the possibility of one day getting together, or you’re not. The polarization has never been clearer than at this moment, when so many are shooting their shot, irking the more high-minded.
Let’s break it down into pros and cons.
PRO: It Works (Sometimes)
The single most irrefutable piece of evidence that Twitter is a dating app is that many, many dates, sexual assignations and weddings have resulted from conversations on there. In fact, early adopters were using it for marriage proposals as far back as 2008. We don’t have data on how well these relationships endure, but is there any reason to think they’re less successful than the ones that began with a Tinder swipe? Probably not! Sorry, haters: Love is in the air.
CON: It’s Public
The most obvious downside to Twitter crushes is that if you’re not already whispering in the DMs, the complete history of your interaction is laid out on the timeline for millions of gawkers to see. It’s not easy getting closer to someone when, at any moment, @bonersteve_450293012 can piggyback on your thread and ruin whatever chemistry you had going. And though I have often extolled the virtues of being horny on main, excessive thirst can make for uncomfortable incidents, kind of like when you see hardcore PDA in a Burger King at 2 a.m. Nobody wants that.
PRO: It’s Open-Ended and More Fun
Apps like Tinder may have “gamified” the hookup scene with their swipes and whatnot, yet you can never escape the reality that you’re on there to judge strangers by their selfies and short personal statements. With Twitter, you can log on to see what’s trending, or just to scroll, and make organic connections over shared interests and opinions — which in time can turn into something more. You’ll never have the pressure of launching into an awkward chat right after you matched, knowing next to nothing about your prospective date. Twitter facilitates encounters that more closely resemble a chance introduction at a weird party. That’ll do.
CON: It Can Turn into Harassment
If someone’s on Bumble, you can safely conclude they’re interested in hitting it off and potential naked fun together. The same is not the case on Twitter, where many have signed up to promote their work, engage professionally and build a brand — or even just discuss their hobbies and favorite TV shows. Team “Twitter Is Not a Dating App” is strongly bolstered by the annoyance of men who spam any woman they can find with generic (yet obviously lecherous) DMs. It’s the social media equivalent of a would-be “pickup artist” going around negging everyone in a bar. Listen, dudes, it’s not hard to find women who will sell you pictures of their feet. They usually say so in the bio. Discernment and an ounce of manners go a long way.
PRO: It’s a Better, More Diverse Dating Pool
This, to me, is the clincher. The tech industry as a whole has a bias toward white men, and Twitter is no exception. But think of all the bland, cookie-cutter dating profiles that bleed together after five minutes of swiping, and compare them to the range of identities, voices and backgrounds you get from a well-curated Twitter feed. What’s more, users there are engaged and passionate on the platform — a far cry from those Tinder guys who upload pics of themselves holding fish and wait for the babes to roll in. Rather than a narrow, static representation of a person, Twitter shows you what’s on someone’s mind at random hours and what they’re up to lately. In short, it gives an accurate portrait, and attraction should always build from there.
Twitter’s not a perfect dating app by any stretch, but it’s one of the best we’ve got.