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JSwipe: Navigating love via online apps

[additional-authors]
August 2, 2017
Jonah Goldfinger’s past profile on JSwipe. Screen capture courtesy of Jonah Goldfinger

Any single man or woman who tells you they’ve never used a dating app while on the toilet is a liar.

JSwipe is the app of choice for those looking for a Jewish partner, but there are plenty of other swiping apps, including Bumble, Raya, The League and, of course, the granddaddy of them all, Tinder. They allow us to swipe right or left on prospective matches in waiting rooms, at red lights, on bad dates (uh-huh) and, yes, in the lavatory. Basically, anytime we’re bored, we swipe. (Does anyone read books anymore?)

It wasn’t always this way. In the beginning of online dating, there was JDate, and Jewish singles saw it and it was good.

In those innocent, pre-smartphone days, you didn’t log on simply because you had nothing else to do. It actually was a chore to find an online date! It required considerable time and energy.

So you did what everyone else did: You searched for your soul mate on the office computer when nobody was looking.  And you’d have to remember to keep the JDate browser open next to an Excel file that you would click over to when your boss walked by. JDating could simultaneously get you a life partner and cost you your job.

And not everyone had pictures up with their profile! Seriously! Because that often required a scanner that often required a trip to Kinko’s to scan the photo on a 3.5-inch floppy disk that often required uploading it to the internet back at the office computer.

But most striking back then was the stigma associated with dating online. Should an online couple actually go the distance, a friend might ask the obvious question: “How did you two meet?” To which the following dance usually followed:

“Well, we have these common friends …”

“And then I saw her at this party.”

“But he didn’t talk to me until …”

So you met on JDate?

“I mean, yes. Technically? But …”

Not anymore. Today, it’s basically assumed you met via a common right swipe. It’s gotten to a point where we singles feel compelled to clarify if we didn’t meet via an app: “Yeah, we met at a party. No, we weren’t swiping at the party; he actually came over to me! Yeah, I thought it was totalllllly weird but I went with it …”

It’s easier than ever to connect. Take out your phone, swipe, connect, text, go out, swipe again. Thank goodness JSwipe logs old conversations in the app; otherwise, we’d all unknowingly go out with the same person again.

So it is, as Tu b’Av, the Jewish holiday of love, approaches that the question inevitably pops up yet again: Are we singles inundated with too many options?

“The problem with JSwipe and all the other dating apps is the Jelly Theory,” my JSwipe date said between sips of tea at a Coffee Bean one spring afternoon last year.

“The Jelly Theory?” I replied.

“Yeah. See, these sociologists brought out all these different flavored jellies to sell at a farmers market. And they found, when faced with more flavors, more people would stop and look but fewer would buy. But! When they brought out fewer jelly flavors, fewer people looked but actually more people bought jelly! Fewer options equals more buying. There are too many dating options thanks to all these apps. Which is why nobody is settling down anymore.”

One coffee date and we never went out again. She was right, in fact. I had too many other options.

But since when is having options a bad thing? Marriage is a lifestyle choice, not a necessity. And nobody other than maybe our Jewish parents is putting a gun to our heads. So why can’t we be as picky as we want to be? And who cares if I sample every Jewish jelly in America, even if that means I never, ever, ever buy one?

Two months later, I right-swiped on Lisa.

I wasn’t in the bathroom but I was, indeed, incredibly bored. I was sitting at a poker table at the Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, having a bad run of cards. Tired of folding one hand after another, I finally opened up JSwipe on my iPhone and started swiping. Twenty minutes later, I cashed in what was left of my chips and went to meet my date down the Strip at the Wynn.

She was a pretty jelly. And she was a smart jelly. And funny. She laughed differently and talked differently, and she admitted that, like me, she was bored on this Vegas trip and this was something different. We went out again the next day.

“You know,” I said to Lisa while we watched a basketball game on date No. 2, “no matchmaker would ever set the two of us up on a date.”

“Totally. If it wasn’t for JSwipe, we’d probably never meet.”

And she was right. Lisa was four years my senior. She lived in Canada, while I lived in L.A. We wanted different things. Aside from being Jewish, we had very little else in common. But we were bored, in Vegas, and we had this amazing app at our fingertips ….

I had done enough JSwiping and tested enough jellies to know that this was someone I wanted to be in a relationship with. All of our options made me and her better consumers. My palate is refined. I know what I want.

One year later, I’m happy to say that Lisa is still the jelly to my peanut butter. Now, I just have to find something other than swiping to do when I’m bored. Can anyone recommend a good book?

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