Technology has a way of changing the way we do things: the internet revolutionized the way information spreads. Facebook reorganized our social lives. The iPhone’s Siri replaced the need for a flesh-and-blood personal assistant.
But when it comes to hooking up, technology has left much to be desired.
Our generation is the first in which sex has gone digital. I’m not talking about online dating, which made its debut in the ’90s, but rather the new world of let’s-get-it-on websites and apps that invite people our age to go all the way.
The newest thing in the world of sex technology is Bang With Friends. The app — which has already gathered over 250,000 users since it launched last week — notifies pairs of Facebook friends who have identified that they’d like to “bang.”
If the subtleties of Facebook “poking” are lost on you, Bang With Friends makes its intentions well known.
The creators of Bang With Friends (three dudes from California who have chosen to remain anonymous) say they designed the app to reduce rejection in hooking up. Users log into the app, select Facebook friends whom they’d like to “bang” and are notified if their potential partners feel the same way.
“What a lot of people want is just to skip all the sh-t and get to the sex,” the three creators wrote in a statement last week.
But by removing rejection from the equation, so too have they removed legitimate connection. Hook-up apps like these artificialize and micromanage our sex lives and ultimately, there’s just no room for the iPhone in bed.
Still, the attempt is not novel, and Bang With Friends is certainly not the first app to couple technology with sex. A quick perusal of the iPhone app store reveals the hook-up apps like Tingle, as well as the wildly successful homosexual hook-up app Grindr and its heterosexual counterpart, Blendr.
Grindr, which caters exclusively to the gay community, is perhaps the most successful heterosexual or homosexual hook-up app on the market. The service boasts more than four million users and is growing constantly.
When Blendr was introduced in 2011, the reviews were lukewarm. Slate writer Amanda Hess suggested that the real issue was in the design, considering that Blendr — along with Grindr, Bang With Friends and even the lesbian hook-up app Brenda — was designed by men. Designed by men for use by men, it’s unsurprising that many women are reluctant to use a “bona fide boning app.”
The problem, however, is likely more nuanced. College junior Anna Tsiotsias thinks the hesitancy to let your phone play matchmaker relates to a stigma more than programming. Asked if she would ever consider signing up for a service like Bang With Friends, Tsiotsias said absolutely not.
“It’s not a question of ‘would I want to,’ because there’s a really negative stigma for women to do that,” she explained, adding that if any woman was found to be using Bang With Friends, the response would be along the lines of, “WTF?”
“I mean, what would that say about me? Like, I need to use an online f-ck generator to get laid?”
Wharton sophomore Johnathan Wilson added that the technology fell short when it came to delivering a meaningful connection.
“I used to be a Grindr user, but I kind of realized that it’s not the right way to meet people. There’s no real connection. Most of the people on there just want a quick hook-up, and I realized that’s not what I want in a relationship.”
The design of hook-up technologies seems to be missing the point. Our generation might be down to get down with no strings attached, but we don’t want our iPhones and Androids doing the work.
According to its creators, Bang With Friends is “less about one-night stands and more about getting people to be more blunt with the way they’re approaching each other.”
Bluntness seems like the wrong goal — if there’s any hope for the future of hook-up apps, they need to help us forge better sexual connections.
And for those who are truly interested in banging their friends, there’s no need to join the new Facebook app when a quick message — “hey, want to come over tonight?” — would suffice.
Arielle Pardes is a College junior from San Diego, Calif. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow her @pardesoteric. “The Screwtinizer” appears every Wednesday.
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