Straight people feel a mix of wonder and confusion from Grindr. While gay men can throw their wanting and lust into the Internet ether with just a fingertip, such a device doesn’t exist for straight guys and girls. Yeah, Blendr exists, the straight cousin of Grindr, but no one actually uses it. Now, a new dating app has entered the ring, albeit a nebbishy one. Meet Yenta, the app for single Jews on the prowl. Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match, find me a find, catch me a catch in the area who will have sex with me with the lights off.
The app is pretty user-friendly and straightforward. First, just pick a username, upload your photo, and answer some simple questions. Then, a mosaic of profile pictures will appear, each one marked by how far away a possible mate is. Pretty straightforward, right? This doesn’t seem like the App That Launched A Thousand Hookups. But, then again, Yenta isn’t an app for straight people; it’s an app for Jews.
Take, for example, the three questions you need to answer for the Yenta profile. “What’s your shtick?” “What will impress my mother?” and a sliding scale of “how Jewish” you think you are. These are all loaded with Jewish cultural notes and standards. It might as well ask “what’s your favorite bagel and shmeer combo?” (Mine is cinnamon raisin and lox spread, ladies).
Check out this quote from creator Luba Tolkachyov. “You can walk into a coffee shop and you can find out who’s Jewish and single around you,” she told the NYPost. “JDate is kind of the traditional model. To be able to log on to [Yenta], you have to go out. There’s no need for the lengthy profile—now we can see who’s single and near us.” The “we” and the “us,” that’s not straight people. That’s Jews with iPhones who want casual-to-not-so-casual somethings.
So why does Yenta have a chance? Because its made for a specific audience, a subculture of singles waiting to make out with someone like them. The app exists to easily and automatically weed out what you’re not looking for, and there’s a comfort in that pre-sorted community.
No one cares about being straight. There’s no point of pride just in liking the other gender. Therefore, no one’s going to just use a simplistic hookup app for hookups. There has to be another cultural factor involved to draw them in. That’s why Grindr has 4.5 million users, and JDate, ChristianSingles, BlackPlanet, FetishLovers, and Cougarlife all exist. If you’d like to consider the cultural significance of casual heterosexuality and why an American may not identify themselves as such in our heteronormative society, go ahead. I’ve been flirting with a girl for about twenty minutes and she says she can blow a shofar like a champ.