Sensibility vs. the Tinderization of Dating

Well…

 

I’m back. After almost three years of posting nothing at all, here I am. Ready to put thoughts to the metaphorical paper in hopes of people reading them. It’s been a long time coming, but this is an issue I can no longer stay silent on.

Tinderization (noun) – The act of destroying online dating by shoehorning Tinder-like functionality into unrelated dating apps.

I’ll say that it looks like I’m not the first person to use the word “tinderization,” but a cursory Google search shows others who have independently coined the term use it with different intent. As such, I’ll be sticking with the term, under my definition. Suffice it to say it’s a loaded definition – after all, I did say it’s destroying online dating. Quite clearly, this is a topic I’ve some strong opinions on. I’ve presented my thesis, and I don’t think I managed to stutter: Tinder ruined dating.

Tinder sucks. Here’s why.

Swipe left. Swipe right. Does nobody else think it’s positively absurd that dating has been reduced to these trite concepts? And then of course there’s “following rules 1 and 2.” For the uninitiated, those are “Be attractive,” and “don’t be unattractive,” respectively. Well, what about the rest of us? The rebels. Those who care not for rules. Those who are best summed up in multiple paragraphs, as opposed to a handful of Snapchat photos. Here’s the problem for us: In and of itself, it’s easy to ignore Tinder. It’s a raging dumpster fire. In and of itself, Tinder doesn’t matter. It’s a dumb app for dumb people. For masochists who enjoy being reduced to a set of photos, followed by a short bio that’s half emojis and half the names of the airports in the cities they’ve lived in. While on that note, what the hell kind of person considers that to be the most interesting thing about them? If you don’t have anything more interesting to say about yourself, you must really be a blank slate. About as bland as hospital food. Thanks for letting me know right off the bat that you’re probably worth avoiding. Seriously, what conversation starter were you fishing for? “How’s the airport in NYC?”

But it’s not just Tinder.

And this is the problem. Tinder isn’t just a raging dumpster fire. It’s cancerous, too. Look at OKCupid. I used to like the way they did things – A detailed profile, with all kinds of intricate questions about a person. And they still have that. Except now, you can’t message someone unless they’ve matched with you in their Tinder-like swipe-left, swipe-right drivel that they’ve added and since buried everything else underneath. I haven’t used it much, but as far as I can tell, Coffee Meets Bagel uses roughly the same system.

I’m not sure what it is. I’m only 25, I thought. Am I getting old? Do people not want depth in their relationships anymore? Granted, I’ve never been all that in touch with what the average person wants, because as far as I can tell, the answer is always “a steaming hot pile of garbage.” I think the question on my mind, and on the minds of however many sensible people are actually left on this planet, is…

Where do we go from here?

POF? I gave this one a try, and even shelled out for a few months of premium membership. Then I got confused by their instructions for unsubscribing and lost another $30 until I just deleted my account. From my time on there, all I’ve found out is that they should rename their site “Plenty of Bots.” The entire time I’ve had their (buggy, unpleasant) app installed, I would get notifications that someone “wants to meet me.” Inevitably, it would be a profile with short, one-word descriptions and a handful of photos. And of course, if you’d message this person, you’d promptly get a link to some shifty sex cam site. The whole thing is terrible, but props to them for not following the idiotic Tinder trend, at least? Try curating your site a little (or a lot, rather) better though.

Reddit? I actually met one of my exes on reddit, as well as someone I dated briefly but never entered a formal relationship with (TL;DR, she had a lot of problems and wasn’t over her ex, who she quickly went back to). Considering the dating subreddits are exclusively text-based, you’d think this would be exactly what I’m looking for. I’m familiar with exactly two of these – R4R (the big, global one), and, since I live near Atlanta, Atlanta R4R (which has mostly devolved into casual hookup posts, since the section of Craigslist previously devoted to this recently shut down). And considering I’ve had decent luck here before, you’d think this would be a no-brainer. After all, I spend almost all of my day on reddit anyway. But here’s the problem: reddit is a notorious sausage-fest. And it seems to be devolving into more and more of one. What’s the point of crafting a brilliantly thought-out post, if your target audience isn’t there to read it? I suppose I’ll continue to yell into the void that is R4R for now until I come up with a better solution.

Real life? This platform is confusing. It needs an instruction manual, which it seems to be sorely lacking. For instance, I can’t find the “dating” section. I only ever really browse three sections of this one: My apartment, my job, and wherever I happen to be eating. None of these seem to be conducive to meeting other people. I’m gonna just write this one off as “needs documentation.”

Why not make your own?

If all else fails, this is what I’m inclined toward doing. After all, I’m a developer! Any problem that can’t be solved with code doesn’t matter. So I can either find someone by writing code, or reach the conclusion that finding someone doesn’t matter… right? At this point, it’s really just a matter of deciding what I need to make. A website? An app? Both? And how can I make such a thing as “anti-Tinder” as possible? I have some thoughts on this, which I’m keeping to myself for now, in case I do decide to actually implement this, but I could really use some inspiration.

In closing, online dating right now sucks. And the suckiness is spreading. I think it’s time to nuke it all from orbit and start over. Thanks a lot, Tinder. You’ve ruined meaningful connections forever. And thanks a lot, other millennials, you’ve enabled this.

Online dating sucks because people suck. Rant over.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Windows Update

I’ve never seen a piece of software that’s tried over the years to make people hate it more and more than Windows Update. It’s evolved into what’s quite honestly a piece of full-fledged malware. Actually, if you consider the “Get Windows 10” nagware, you could even say it’s an entire suite of malware. I can’t say I’ve ever liked it. As a matter of fact, I think I’m starting to understand the nostalgia for Windows XP. Gone are the days when your computer does what you tell it to. You could turn it off completely, or, what I usually did, was have it set to just notify me and allow me to determine how to proceed. This allowed me to make sure network bandwidth and CPU cycles weren’t being wasted on a task that is secondary to what I am presently doing.

That said, this has been an issue for quite some time. Why write about it now? Because as of today, it’s more than an ideological annoyance. It’s become a full-fledged, practical problem. I’m developing and testing a piece of software that needs to be capable of running unsupervised for long periods of time (but fortunately, it won’t be running on Windows 10 in production). And presently, I’m trying to track down a bug in that piece of software that causes it to stop working after several hours. So I left it debugging in a Windows 10 VM overnight, to see if the stuff I had it logging would bring anything useful to light. I come back to that VM in the morning to see that it’s a clean slate. All the stuff I had open the night before – gone. Then I realized I’d forgotten to turn off the automatic rebooting behavior, that for some idiotic reason isn’t even given as an option on install, and is hidden in an “advanced settings” menu. There goes several hours of testing I had running to track down this problem.

Actually, this automatic reboot by default behavior goes directly against Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing initiative. That is, their software should not perform a behavior that is unplanned. As a matter of fact, that’s exactly why they removed Easter eggs from their products. But at least an Easter egg never interfered with useful work. This automatic reboot on update behavior is like an Easter egg, but malicious. Oh, I see you’re running an important task? Let’s just shut it off to install a bunch of updates. Let’s insult the users by assuming that whatever they had running was unimportant. And what’s worse is that in Windows 10 Home, it isn’t just an assumption that you can correct with much effort. It’s mandatory.

Even as recently as Windows 8.1, we’ve had appropriate levels of control over Windows Update. But since then, we’ve gone from this:

To this:

Much like the telescreens in 1984, you can turn it down, but you can’t turn it off. And seeing the direction MS is going, they’ll probably soon take that ability away from us too, as they already have from the Home users. The good news is, it’s possible to get them to back down. Much to my annoyance, in Windows 8.1, the only way to sign in using a local account instead of a Microsoft account was to disconnect from the internet while you set up the system. In Windows 10, they finally gave an option to skip this. And of course, they also brought back the Start Menu after realizing the failure of their “everything is a tablet” mentality. And hopefully, we can get them to do it again. They’ve realized in the past that one-size-fits-all mentalities don’t work here. This is yet another instance of that kind of thinking, that needs to be removed. And I largely don’t get how it managed to sneak in there, when Windows 10 was largely supposed to be a backpedaling from such a mentality. Regardless, send Microsoft your feedback, as I’ve already done. Tell them you want control over your own updates. To quote the message that plays before movies about texting during the movie, “IT CAN WAIT!” I’m sure to Microsoft’s QA department, fixing an issue that surfaces on one in a billion machines is top priority. To me, the fix itself gets in the way of vastly more important things. At least give the users themselves full control over how important those fixes are to them. If your software matches your priorities and not your customers’ priorities, your priority isn’t your customers, and soon your customers’ priority won’t be you. The trend is starting to move in favor of giving control to the users. Look at Apple in the last couple of years. Third-party keyboards, ad blockers for mobile Safari, and the ability to run your own code on your device without paying for a subscription. Meanwhile, Microsoft is trying to move Windows Update in the opposite direction. It’s becoming a piece of malware. It’s something I’d remove entirely if given the option, in favor of just downloading the updates manually and installing them by hand, when I’m not trying to accomplish more important things.

A Rant on Academic Tenure

Whee! I’m going to write something controversial! And I’m going to post it in places where I know people are going to be offended by it! I’d first like to apologize to those people. I personally know a handful of people who work in academia, and I’m rather fond of those people. This post isn’t about them. This post is about people who suck at their jobs yet get to keep them anyway. It isn’t a problem unique to academia. I, and others I know, have often expressed anger at meteorologists for the same reason. You’d be better off most of the time going by the opposite of their predictions. This is a post about a simple principle that I wholeheartedly believe should be universal: If you suck at your job, you should be fired.

First, a little background. Why now? Why am I writing this when I have productive work (expect a blog post in the next day or two about what I’m working on, but here’s a hint) to do? When it comes down to it, I was inspired to write this now because I was just reading an argument over what’s wrong with education in this country. There were arguments over things like student loans and other sideshows. I decided to bring up the real issue: Academic tenure.

More specifically, I’m writing this because academic tenure has really, really screwed me over. Go back about a year. I had a statistics class at McNeese State University (I feel like I should leave the school anonymous, but it isn’t a problem specific to McNeese, and there are actually a lot of great professors there, especially in the computer science department, and pretty much everyone knows which school I go to anyway). Only one person teaches that class during normal fall/spring semesters, and it’s more or less universally agreed upon that this person can’t teach. I know several people who have failed this professor’s class. Including myself. Furthermore, I know it’s that particular professor at fault since I failed the class once, took it again with that same professor and had to drop the class, and finally took it again this summer, with a different professor, and got an A for the class. I do personally know one person who passed the class with the awful professor, but even she got a B, and to her a B is like failing anyway.

Anyway, I failed a class. Why am I so angry? It happens to people all the time. Because in this particular case, failing that class kept me from passing the twelve credit hours a semester necessary to keep my TOPS scholarship. As a result, I now have $5000 in student loan debt (which I wholeheartedly believe should be taken out of that professor’s check; here’s a crazy thought – let’s actually hold bad professors and trigger-happy cops responsible for their own actions). Let’s hope I get this job I interviewed for recently (they said they should need me in 2-3 weeks). If not, my six-month grace period for the loan will pass, and I’ll be expected to begin repayment, because of the one class I have left to take (because of an advising screw-up outside the scope of this topic) not making me a half-time student eligible to not have to pay that yet.

ANYWAY, back to my original point. If you suck at your job, you should be fired. Full stop. This puts pressure on people to actually work hard to do their job well. I understand the concept of academic tenure (and I also understand that my opinion that the tenure system should be abolished is unpopular, as a majority of Americans support it, but I stand by my opinion nonetheless). It’s to protect academic freedom and protect those who publish unpopular research. However, as a student, whose social circles mostly consist of other students, I know large numbers of people who have been victimized by the tenure system, and I think it’s time we do away with it.

I guess I see it like this. College is expensive. It practically ruins its target audience, some of the most financially volatile people in the country. And with students being paying customers, I think we deserve better. Students, not research, should be a professor’s top priority. Students are paying customers, and by means of that payment, they have the right to a quality education. This should come above a professor’s personal search for fame and glory. I’m not saying research is unimportant. I am saying that students, as in people who need an education to succeed in life, and pay large sums of money to obtain that education, are more important. And the least those students deserve is to have the wheat separated from the chaff – to present them with professors who can actually deliver the education they need. We at McNeese fill out evaluation forms toward the end of each semester. Here’s a thought – if a professor receives an overall negative rating for two consecutive semesters, they should get the boot. This also solves the academic freedom issue. Don’t allow a professor to be fired for anything research-related, but put a fire under them to do well in the classroom.

In summary, do the right thing for students. Hold professors accountable for the education their students receive.

GroGApp 1.0 Now in the iOS App Store!

After over a month of dealing with Apple’s approval process, GroGApp is now available on the App Store! This means you should go download it. Right now. Follow @justin once you do. Also, go download the source code and do stuff with it. This leaves a couple of questions.

Why does the website still say it’s pending approval?

I’m in Georgia for a job interview, and I’m a little exhausted from all the driving. That’s why it took me so long to announce that the app was in the store to begin with. I’ll fix it once I get home.

Will there be an Android version? When?

I’ve been asked this by pretty much everyone. The answer is, “I don’t know,” to both. I find the Android SDK a bit less pleasant to deal with than that of iOS, and I don’t really feel like dealing with it right now. Hey, there’s a reason apps tend to be iOS-first. 

Although the API is open (with the only documentation being the Swift code for the iOS app, but…), so feel free to beat me to it, for those of you who loathe the Android SDK less than I do.

My Perspective on Why Marriage Equality is the Only Way that Makes Legal Sense

Needless to say, with me living in the South, there have been a lot of people angry over the marriage equality ruling. And with the South being full of people who aren’t exactly known for being the smartest, a lot of opinions have been going around on why the ruling is “unfair” because it doesn’t respect “state’s rights,” often citing the Tenth Amendment. I’m going to explain why it isn’t as simple as these people think it is, and why state’s rights could never apply to the level they think they do. It’s also worthy of mention that these people just last week were up in arms defending their “state’s rights” to put a Confederate flag over their state capitol. I don’t plan to discuss that today. I am simply going to say this. If you want to put the Redneck Nazi flag in your distended yard full of junk or on your beaten up old pickup truck, fine. But a state has zero right to waste my tax dollars on purchasing and maintaining that symbol of ignorance.

With all that flag nonsense out of the way (although I will refer to it once more before this post is up), time to get back to the matter at hand. I need to start out by establishing the parameters for this discussion. It is not about religion. People are intermingling a discussion on whether homosexuality is “right” or “wrong” into this, which more or less instantly invalidates their opinions. I’m not at all saying that people shouldn’t be allowed to have that discussion. I’m saying it has nothing to do with the discussion at hand: the legality of same-sex marriage. You can talk about the law of the land, or you can talk about religion. The two have nothing to do with each other though, so it’s inappropriate to talk about both in the same context. There is a difference, and for good reason. Case in point: Saudi Arabia, a country that acknowledges no difference between the two. With that being said, I will not respond to commentary, here or elsewhere, that tries to discuss religion.

TL;DR: Religion is outside the scope of this article.

That leaves the scope of this article to be the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage across the country. I am particularly going to discuss it against the “state’s rights” perspective. That is, most of the people in the South arguing against same-sex marriage argue that state’s rights have been violated, and states should be able to decide for themselves. I’m going to present both the short version and the long version of my thoughts on this.

The Short Version: Remember the Confederate flag debate? As most of the people arguing against same-sex marriage are the same ones thinking a state capitol should fly the Redneck Nazi flag (I do realize there are exceptions), I think that answer is safely a yes. Remember how that ended? State’s rights lost. The end.

The Long Version:

Quoted here is the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution, the text being used to argue against a blanket ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

So. This means, if there isn’t anything else in the Constitution relevant to this, the Supreme Court ruling was wrong, right? Well, the whole point of the ruling is that the Fourteenth Amendment applies here, and I personally agree with that sentiment. But, for the sake of this argument, I’ll concede that hypothetically, it doesn’t apply here. Let’s continue.

There is in fact part of the Constitution that applies quite directly to this. Not even an amendment, but part of the Constitution proper. It is known as the Full Faith and Credit Clause, found in Article IV, Section 1, and quoted here in full for convenience.

Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state. And the Congress may by general laws prescribe the manner in which such acts, records, and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect thereof.

What this means, in a nutshell, is that legal proceedings (including licenses) issued in one state must be acknowledged by any other state. To anyone with common sense, that would include a marriage license. So as long as a forward-thinking state is willing to issue a marriage license to same-sex couples (so here we’ll only consider the states that legalized it by popular vote, because once again, I’m writing this argument to the “let the people of each state decide” people). And yes, it was legalized in many states by popular vote. I know that, at the bare minimum, Maine, Maryland, and Washington did. According to the Constitution, the Fourteenth Amendment completely aside, a same-sex marriage license issued in one state is every bit as legal in any other state as your Louisiana driver’s license is legal in Texas (for those reading this from somewhere other than my hometown, for context, I live in a town in Louisiana so close to the border, a lot of people think it’s in Texas).

What I’m trying to get at here is that even if you don’t agree with the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Full Faith and Credit Clause quite clearly requires your backwards redneck state to acknowledge a marriage licensed in any other state. And once that is acknowledged, actually issuing a marriage in a given state is a mere formality.

Needless to say, with this knowledge in hand, I would imagine many people would desire to repeal the Full Faith and Credit Clause. To quote Alexander Pope:

A little learning is a dangerous thing; drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring: there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again.

Let me explain why this would be a terrible idea to those people, unless you never leave the state you live in. The Full Faith and Credit Clause is also what makes your Louisiana driver’s license valid in Texas or any other state. In a world without it, you’d have to stop at every state line (kinda like at an international border). But then you’d have to find some way to get to the nearest DMV and obtain a license, in every state you wanted to get a license in.

TL;DR: Like being able to use your driver’s license in any state you drive into? If you want to keep that, nationwide same-sex marriage is here to stay.

I usually try to stay quiet about politics. But with my overal political ideology being of a largely libertarian bent, I manage to anger both the left and the right, so I think I might be a little more open about politics now. Yes, I’ll have a bunch of people that disagree with me, but I have the consolation that I’ll offend everyone equally. And I know that my intended audience will probably disagree with me on this (and I know it won’t change their minds, but I just wanted to point out the issues I take with their reasoning anyway), but I probably agree with you on a bunch of other things, so don’t sweat it.