You have to admire the stones on Mark Zuckerberg. Rather than retreating to his climate-controlled sleep pod with unlimited Fruity Pebbles (just a guess) after a tough week testifying before Congress, he has roared back with the splashy launch of a Facebook dating app.
I kinda love him for that.
Old-school spin would dictate Zuckerberg lay low while Facebook quietly and efficiently tends to its massive security-breach problems. But that kind of thinking is so early aughts, amiright?
While others would shrink from renewed public exposure like a slug in salt, Zuckerberg’s not that kind of cat. He just cozies up to the salt shaker and says, “Hit me.”
Once again clad in his trademark tight tee — and visibly relieved to no longer be explaining how the internet machine works to a room full of everyone’s great uncle in the nursing home — Zuckerberg says the new app’s goal is to build “real, long-term relationships, not just hookups.”
(That noise you just heard was Tinder dramatically swiping left and huffing out of the room.)
In a nutshell, Facebook users can set up a dating profile, “unlock” groups and events and see profiles of other single folks who share those interests or plan to attend the same event. You can then privately text (no nasty pics allowed) to meet in person.
In a way it’s deliciously old school. Zuckerberg says the app will be a “great way to connect people through shared events.” Naysayers say it will be “just be yet another way your data can be stolen.”
Maybe, but they won’t get much. This has nothing to do with your “normal” Facebook profile so mama ’n them won’t see you flirting with a guy with face tatts while arranging to meet at Suck Bang Blow. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
The new app’s techno level is barely above fifth-grade note passing, which was highly effective until that witch Vickie H., “accidentally on purpose” showed the whole classroom what you wrote about the new boy looking “Bobby Sherman levels of groovy.” For instance.
The new Facebook dating app provides a “safe zone” where you are practically guaranteed to have at least one thing in common with someone who, from the tiny profile pic allowed, appears to have no visible goiters.
While you could always just go to the event and chat up cold-call style over the inevitable Trader Joe’s veggie tray, who needs that kind of stress? I don’t see a downside to this sort of TSA precheck for relationships. When it comes to matters of the heart, if there’s an option that moves a lot faster and lets you keep your shoes on, what’s not to love?
We all know this much is true: In this age of hyper-connectivity, many of us are actually more disconnected from the real world than ever before. Maybe because he started this mess, Mark Zuckerberg seems determined to fix that, one Unitarian Universalist potluck at a time. Good on him.
— Wilmington, North Carolina’s Celia Rivenbark is a NYT-bestselling author and columnist. Visit www.celiarivenbark.com.