If you’re single and stuck inside at home during the pandemic, online dating can be a creative way to pass the time – after all, what’s more romantic than a first date over Zoom? But if, in a fit of boredom, you’re tempted to try Facebook Dating, let me tell you now: don’t even think about it. I speak from experience.
You may have noticed the little heart icon that first appeared in the Facebook app last September – that’s the dating app. It never really sounded like a good idea, but I didn’t realise how terrible it was until it matched me with guy who only went on dates with me to score some free PC hardware. (Weird, right? That didn’t work out for him.)
Look, we all know online dating is awful. But using Facebook’s dating app was perhaps the worst experience of my entire life. I have more horror stories after a few months using the cursed thing than from all my years on Match, OKCupid, Coffee Meets Bagel, Bumble, Hinge and Plenty of Fish combined.
Facebook Dating is mostly just a way for Facebook to show off how it keeps track of all your data, every page you like, and everything you like to talk about. It recommends people to you based on your mutual interests, even if they don’t interact with Facebook very often or haven’t updated the pages they like in a decade. There’s really no way to know if Facebook is trying to match you with a present-day someone or the person they were 10 years ago.
In addition to the guy who wanted free stuff, there was the man who wouldn’t drive me to my car (at night, by the way) because he didn’t want to move his PlayStation 4 from the front seat of his precious BMW. And who could forget the dude who told me that he thought it was cute that men made sexist comments about me on the Internet. But Facebook Dating’s pièce de résistance of a recommendation was the guy who tried to hide that he was living out of his car by trying to move in with me after a few weeks of seeing each other.
I didn’t quite realise what he was doing at first, because he started hanging his clothes up in my closet while I was using the bathroom. When I emerged, I caught him removing some of my clothes to make room for his.
“Could you keep the empty hangers on this side of the closet?” he asked, like it was totally fucking normal. “I like to have a system when I hang up and take down my clothes.”
This would not stand. After telling him to please get his clothes out of my closet, we got in a huge fight. I discovered he had stashed an antique rifle under my bed – as anyone who tries to secretly move in with someone does – which led to an even bigger fight. He then accused me of having another man in my apartment, which is how I discovered he went through my dishwasher to see what I was eating. The dirty popcorn bowl was all the evidence he needed that I was entertaining other gentleman callers. (I was not, but even if I was, that is insane.)
By that point, I had my phone in one hand with my thumb ready to dial the police and my pepper spray in the other. I told him I lived one mile from the police station and they would arrive immediately if he did not leave with all of his things. Eventually, he broke down sobbing about how sorry he was for lying. I was the only good thing in his life and he wanted to marry me, he said. Thankfully, he took everything and left without incident, and I haven’t heard from him since.
“Well, I guess you can tell all your friends about this now,” he said on his way out the door.
Yes, my friends heard all about it. And now you, dear Gizmodo readers, know too.
Want to know why Facebook thought I would bond with this lunatic? Both of our dads had recently died. Great job on that algorithm, Zuckerberg.
Yes, this could have happened on any online dating platform, but it happened on Facebook. After seven years of meeting duds on various apps, Facebook matched me with the worst of the worst. If you’re exploring online dating during this time of social distancing, you’re better off going with another platform – literally, any other platform. I hear Tinder might be getting rid of its geolocation settings, which seems like a bad idea, but at least someone in a different place can’t surreptitiously move into your apartment.
Last month, Facebook announced it was launching a new video-calling feature that would allow Facebook Dating users to call each other over Messenger, which makes sense – dating during a pandemic means you have to get to know each other you can meet in person. Still, you should definitely not use this app!
My current partner and I met through mutual friends at a baby shower a few months before the pandemic (and shortly after my Facebook Dating disaster). Facebook Dating tries to approximate that IRL meet-cute based on what it knows about what you like and who you know. But it fails miserably. So if I somehow wind up single again, I’ve made my peace with being a spinster, crocheting booties for my friends’ babies while all 37 of my cats try to sit on my lap. I will never, ever, ever date online again. Thanks, Facebook!
Featured photo: Joanna Nelius (Gizmodo)