Let’s start with a disclaimer. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with hook up apps. In fact, they serve a valuable purpose in connecting people who might otherwise have never had the chance to intersect, so to speak. Hook up apps are not new, just the technology is. They now appear on your phone. Previously you had to login in on a computer (how cumbersome!), and before that, you could view listings in a printed publication (remember those?)
So, this isn’t a judgemental or critical examination of hook up apps. Instead, it’s an exploration of the idea that while there are certain liberating aspects of hook up apps, there’s also a side that’s quite limiting.
The main reasons why hook up apps are limiting is because they require you to take a shopping list approach to love, lust or whatever it is you’re looking for. You list what (and who) you’re looking for and wait for someone to come along who meets the requirements you’ve set. Shopping lists work great for groceries, they just don’t work as well for emotions.
Why? Firstly because even though we like to think we know what we want, generally we have no idea. Is the job you’re in now the job you thought you’d be doing 5 years ago? Is the music you listened to 10 years ago the music you like today?
Over time, we change and grow. Some of that is deliberate, some of it is just the passage of time and the experience of simply living and being exposed to various inputs and stimulations. We can’t control the future, and we can’t predict how we’ll react to future events. In other words, we don’t know what we don’t know…and how could we?
But that’s what most of us do when we use a hook up app. We specify a list of criteria that we currently like. But we have no idea of whether we’d like people or experiences outside of that criteria, especially if we’ve never been exposed to those people or experiences before. We might think that we’re looking in the right place, which may be true, but ultimately, we might be looking in the wrong direction.
Hook up apps allow us to set parameters and put us totally in control of the experience we have on them. We can choose who we want to see, and who can see us. If we don’t like someone, we block them. Despite the social and engaging elements that hook up apps share with the offline world (otherwise known as real life), the two are actually quite different.
When you go out to a bar for instance, you can’t control who you see. Whoever is there, is who you see. If someone comes up to you and say hi, you can’t click a button to ignore them and make them go away. You have to make a choice. You can walk away or say hi back. Whatever you decide, you have no idea what will happen next. How will the person react? What will they say? How will you feel?
And that is kind of what love is. It’s uncertain, unknown and unpredictable. More often than not, it happens when we least expect. Sometimes, it even happens with the person we least expect it to happen with. That’s a beautiful thing. It’s just not something you’ll necessarily experience on a hook up app.