Viral Hinge message shows major problem with dating app culture

Private messages on dating apps often don’t stay private. Screenshotting a conversation with a match and showing your friends — or strangers on social media — is common. Such is the case from this Hinge message an X (formerly Twitter) user @bjorksunibrow posted this week: 

“Heyyy thanks for checking in, would you mind if we put a pin in those plans for now?” the message reads. “Full transparency: I kind of met someone yesterday that I wasn’t expecting to vibe with as much as I did and I’d feel a bit weird going out right away with someone else.”

The “radically” honest, corporate jargon-laced message generated lots of reactions on X. The user who received it captioned the screenshot, “We’re in an era of over-communication.” In a follow-up post they said, “Normalize white lies!” I’ve reached out to this user, and will update the article if I hear back.

Other people agreed, saying this message was too up-front and the person should’ve lied. Some, however, loved the message, hailing its transparency or simply calling it “normal” and “mature.” Others still called the message “soulless” and “brutal.”

There’s no right answer here; your actions will never please everybody, especially on social media. But the message and the subsequent response speaks volumes about the current state of dating and, more broadly, our relationships. On some level, we’re forgetting (or already forgot) how to actually talk to each other. 

We communicate, perhaps even over-communicate as @bjorksunibrow said, but for typing a whole lot of words, we’re not saying much of anything. 

Mashable After Dark

The message-sender followed a script. They shoved their intangible feelings into the corporate- and therapy-speak meat grinder and this message oozed out. Instead of telling the unfiltered truth, they dressed it up in the nicest yet most sterile way possible.

On some level, it’s understandable. In 2024, there’s always a possibility of someone screenshotting your words and disseminating them for the world to see. People have been harassed and doxed for less. (Thankfully, here, @bjorksunibrow cut out any identifying information before uploading the screenshot to X.) 

Social media has programmed us to think about each and every possible reaction, and most of them are unkind. We’re constantly aware of how others perceive us. In our obsession with optics, we hedge, add disclaimers, and dilute our true thoughts until they’re a puddle of nothing.

Aside from this issue, this message also reeks of “optimization.” In the search for meaning under capitalism (or, I don’t know, a lot of TikTok followers), many have turned to optimizing their health and work. This has bled over into dating. Why actually think about and share my actual feelings, when the internet (or your therapist, or ChatGPT) already wrote a response for me? Why stop swiping on apps when my next match might be ten percent hotter or make ten percent more money? Why keep my plans with that one Hinge match when the person I met yesterday seems so much better? 

As culture critic Magdalene J. Taylor recently wrote, optimization will not save you — and it will certainly not save relationships. If anything, optimization shrinks intimacy and trust. Our inner thoughts and feelings are messy, but sharing them actually leads to us getting to know one another on that messy, human level. 

Maybe that message of “putting a pin” in plans was “optimal,” but as my Mashable colleague Cecily Mauran said, it reads more like a bad layoff email. In this era of increasing tech and optimization, we need more reminders that life is inherently messy — and not the kind of uncanny valley messiness of an AI-generated photo, but something different. Something human.

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