I have apps on my iPhone. I didn’t ask for them. They were there from the Beginning of Time. Which is to say, when I bought my phone.
I’ve tried my best to ignore them, and from what I can tell, they didn’t mind being ignored. But you can’t just ignore someone forever, when they are right there in front of you. Eventually, you have to engage.
One of my apps is Apple Podcasts. Until yesterday, I didn’t know I had that app on my phone. It was one of those ‘wallflower’ apps, that just hangs in the background, waiting for you to notice her, and make the first move.
The first move, in my case, was to open Apple Podcasts and listen a ‘The Economist Asks’ interview between correspondent Anne McElvoy and the “youngest self-made female billionaire” — Whitney Wolfe Herd, the creator of a dating app called ‘Bumble’.
The Bumble home page invites me to Make the First Move. The first move being, perhaps, a free 14-day membership.
Like almost everyone I know here in Pagosa Springs, I’m single. I’m loathe to consider the possibility, but I might be what they call “terminally single.”
Unlike COVID-19, which swept through our lives rather suddenly starting in early 2020, the illness known as “being single” has been a slowly spreading infection. Definitely a pandemic, but for some unknown reason, never addressed by Tony Fauci and his colleagues. (Maybe they were married? And didn’t notice?)
Ms. Wolfe Herd, the self-made billionaire, took it upon herself to address this pestilence, starting in 2014, when she decided it was time to address two societal issues.
Women, waiting for the phone to ring.
And men, acting like abusive assholes when they log in a typical dating app.
Ms. Wolfe Herd wanted to empower women to “make the first move” in romantic relationships. Thus the message on the Bumble website: “Make the First Move.”
For too long, Ms. Wolfe Herd concluded, women had been expected to get a college education, register to vote, build a successful career, and generally empower themselves to do anything and everything a man could do — including some things a man cannot do — but then, to sit helplessly by the phone waiting for the guy to call.
Why should a woman expect the man to be The Dealer, when in fact, she Holds All the Cards?
Ms. Wolfe Herd couldn’t think of a good reason for this expectation, considering that a modern woman could — with a bit of effort — become a self-made billionaire while carrying a one-year-old on her hip. Why sit around moping, waiting for a man to ask you out, she asks. And, apparently, 40 million users around the world agree with that general sentiment.
When you first visit Bumble on your phone or computer… (and I’m assuming you will, indeed, visit Bumble, sooner rather than later, if you believe women should be empowered…) you will be invited to get started…
We are not going to mess around, here. We’re going to demand access to your Apple ID, or your Facebook account, or your cell phone number.
You want a date? You want romance? Time to pony up some private information.
I will admit that I have — at times in my life — been attracted to aggressive women, and not merely because they are willing to split the restaurant tab 50/50. So this invitation to Bumble gets me a little bit excited. I give her my phone number. She immediately sends me a text message with a four-digit code, and I enter it into the little boxes. Then I have to tell her my name. How would I like to be called? I can choose.
Should I use my real name? I don’t even know this person, yet, or what she is going to cost me. But I can tell, already, she is going to ask for my credit card number. Eventually.
Is she vaccinated? Will she expect me to be vaccinated?
Maybe this is all going a bit too fast.
But isn’t that the state of the world, nowadays… everything moving too fast?
I consider the Bumble home page. A woman appears to be sitting in her bed, scrolling through the Bumble app on an iPhone that looks a lot like my own iPhone. We are kindred spirits.
And she is willing to make the first move?
What the hell. I will tell her my name.
Underrated writer Louis Cannon grew up in the vast American West, although his ex-wife, given the slightest opportunity, will deny that he ever grew up at all.