It goes without saying that 2016 will be a consequential year in American history. We might elect the first female president in our nation’s history ever to be indicted for mishandling state secrets. Or, we might finally be able to look our young billionaires and reality show stars in the eye and tell them: “See, even you can be president someday.” And, perhaps most importantly, all your #hottakes about the presidential election may no longer be limited to 140 characters.
Perhaps 2016 will be the year in which a majority of children in the U.S. are born with an already established and active social media account. Fine. But can we at least try to avoid letting 2016 be the year in which political dating apps become a thing? We’re better than that. (I mean, we’re obviously not, but let’s just please pretend we are for a little while longer.)
You may or may not be horrified to learn that many years ago, Fox News host Sean Hannity launched his own dating website called “Hannidate,” basically a Tinder for the politically conservative. Hannidate ultimately failed, because it was ahead of its time, and also for legal reasons. But the idea lives on. Asked in a recent interview about the defunct dating site, Hannity proclaimed, “I actually love the idea.”
He’s not the only one. In the UK, the left-leaning Guardian newspaper and the right-leaning Telegraph operate their own dating websites. Last year, a bunch of millennials got together to create candiDate, an app with the irresistible tagline: “Vote your values. Date your passion.” Users looking for a “quick hookup” were advised to keep using Tinder. But if you were interested in finding a mate who “matches your positions on the key issues impacting the world today,” candiDate was the app for you. Despite generally positive user reviews, it appears to have met the same fate as Hannidate. Good.
The extent to which politics have been seeping into our culture is disturbing. Consider the Internet meltdown that ensued when Oscar Isaac, one of the stars of The Force Awakens, was seen wearing an Ayn Rand t-shirt in a photograph taken five years ago. Literally everything is a problem these days. Pretty soon we’ll have an app that lets us scan product barcodes to and run them through a database to ensure the company that makes the product is run by people who think correct thoughts about politics. Never mind, that already exists; it’s called BuyPartisan.
Everything is political these days, and Americans seem less and less willing to even associate with ideological opponents, because we’re all so convinced that our beliefs are ethical and righteous and anyone who disagrees must have some kind of moral defect. Obama is a baby-killing fascist who cries fake tears and wants to destroy America; conservatives are heartless gun freaks who cheer the deaths of children in mass shootings because it means the value of their gun stocks will increase, and so on. In 1960, roughly five percent of Americans said they’d be upset if their child married someone from a different political party. By 2010, that figure is now one-third of Democrats and half of Republicans. Dating apps that focus exclusively on politics seems like a natural next step.
On the one hand, political affiliation tends to be a pretty good indicator of other shared interests. If you’re religious and enjoy going to the gun range, you’ll probably have more in common with another Republican, whereas vegetarian cyclists who pretend to be Canadian when traveling abroad are more likely to hit it off with other Democrats. On the other hand, that’s a pretty damning indictment of our culture and the increasingly politicized and polarized world in which we live.
Maybe we’d all be a lot better off if we spent less time decrying anonymous libtards or rethuglicans on social media, and more time going on awkward dates with real life people we might disagree with occasionally. Maybe we could all agree that the truly morally objectionable people are the ones who might tell their children who to marry based on politics. Then we could date as we should, and all just get tipsy and talk about the latest Star Wars meme and take pictures of our food and do hoverboard jousting with selfie sticks like two mad lovers retweeting each other’s come-ons into the silver half-light of our American dawn.