Look, we all get it. Dating is hard. It’s terrifying to crawl out of your self-constructed comfort cave (mine’s lined with paperbacks and a quilt my mom made me out of t-shirts) and expose your weary eyes to the blinding light of cutesy “first date” coffee shops. But for chrissake, the last thing that any sane person in this brave new world wants or needs is an app which allows you exchange almost anything — a shopping trip, a nice dinner, plastic surgery(!!) — for a date. Unfortunately, thanks to the groundbreaking genius of the same guy who came up with SeekingArrangement.com and set sail a fleet of Sugar Babies, we now have Carrot Dating, which does just that: from the comfort and safety of your smartphone, you can now bribe someone into dating you.
Not to get all AP European history on you, but John Locke, the grandfather of the “Having Cool Stuff Makes You Happy” theory, believed that man’s purest state of bliss was ownership of one’s self and one’s necessary materials in a state of nature, where labour is granted with its due spoils and everything is “fair.” Fast forward 324 years and you’ve got pot-bellied human oil slicks who think all it takes to coax a woman out of her jeans is an expensive dinner, an attitude irrevocably rooted in our notions of payment and reward; sacrifice and gain.
To be clear, women who use the app can bribe people too, a fact left out of the many outraged headlines blaring across the world wide web: “Carrot Dating Lets Men Bribe Women Into Dating Them,” yells Business Insider. “This disgusting dating app lets nerdy guys bribe hot women to date them,” cries Venturebeat.
Granted, the outrage is completely understandable, especially given what the app’s MIT-educated founder Brandon Wade had to say about his product: “I realized that women love presents like dogs love treats,” he’s quoted as saying. “Just as an unfriendly dog wouldn’t deny a tasty treat, any beautiful girl can be bribed into giving you a first date.” Though we don’t even really need to talk about Wade’s casually devastating misogyny, we also need to acknowledge that despite the sexist dribble spouted by its founder, this app is really more about human shittiness than shittiness towards women in particular. I should know, I signed up for it in the name of journalism, and also maybe because I hate myself.
The result? I have scrolled through convenient charts of shirtless men, men staring into the distance from the confines of their cars, men wearing snapbacks, men with glasses and without. I now know what it feels like to be offered a bouquet of flowers via the internet. At prom my date brought me a white corsage; slipped it onto my wrist. After my first school play my parents gave me a clump of exploding spring blooms so massive it blocked faces at the dinner table. Now, my phone lights up with the notification that “Matt R., 23, wants to treat you to a bouquet!” I’m probably not gonna go for it — I want to hold out and see if Miller from New Jersey accepts my tattoo bribe yet. From his profile photo, I can tell that he’d look good with some sort of design on his bicep.
In case my frothing sarcasm hasn’t alerted you: do not buy this app. You don’t need a carrot of any sort dangled in front of your face, forcing you to make decisions about whom you choose to canoodle with. And you know, I take back what I said earlier about Carrot Dating skirting total anti-female sentiment: the logo isn’t shaped like a dong by accident.