When it began, it seemed so quick, simple, and discreet.
But, given the myriad ways we connect and know one another, online dating isn't so anonymous after all. The remark was facetious, but 25 years later, where social media allows you to connect—in any number of above-board and illicit ways—with people quite literally across the globe in the remote corners, you really are bound to run into your ex in the web of online dating and apps in a region as relatively miniscule as New York City.
“You can also turn off the ability to be seen or match with Facebook friends,” said David Yarus, the founder of JSwipe, in an online exchange, but noted the desire to block hasn’t been an issue as far as he know.
“People jokingly say they match with friends from summer camp, etc., but no complaints!
“However, Ok Cupid has a couple [of] features that will be rolled out in the next couple months which we think will help address the problem.
Apparently, I am not the only one who has encountered colleagues in the IAC building, which is perhaps to be expected considering IAC owns Ok Cupid, Tinder, and a host of other dating websites and apps—as well as The Daily Beast, where I work.
Still, the potential flaw that may be impossible to rectify is that you don’t know that a coworker, your second cousin, a boy from AP Biology, is out there until his face flashes across your screen.
By then, there’s as much of a chance that he’s already seen you. “Currently on the site it is fairly difficult to filter out people that you know, other than finding them and preemptively hiding or blocking them,” Mike Maxim, the chief technology officer for Ok Cupid, said in an email.
This would have been less disconcerting if he hadn’t also been in the office at the time, he admits with a laugh.
Grindr shows your range of potential matches in a geographical region, which the user sets, and you can also bar users from seeing you, explained a Grindr press representative. You can hit an “unblock all” later if you want, but once they’re blocked they will not see you,” he told The Daily Beast.
Before even fully processing all of the potential implications —Had he already seen me? Should I tell him his first photo kind of makes him look like a d-bag? Though part of the allure of dating sites and apps is allowing you to engage in the vulnerable acts of courtship through screens rather than in-person interactions, I’ve discovered there isn’t the buffer of anonymity that I once perceived.
In under a year, I’ve seen the faces of six former and current employees where I work flash across my phone.