Why you should care
Because online dating just got a makeover, and so should you.
Disclaimer: The following is satire. Please enjoy it in the lighthearted way in which it was conceived for April Fools’ Day.
We are living through a crazy era in history — a social-media-fueled dystopia where fake news, alternative facts and Russian bots rule. Yet the Orwellian revolution in untruth has yet to reach the part of our lives where we really need it most. Until now.
A new dating app named Swindle just might have found a way to bring the magic and mystery back to modern romance by injecting the swagger and unanswerability of the fake news era into the world of online dating. In short, Swindle lets you really be yourself … by letting you be anyone you want to be.
We’ve all been there when it comes to creating that ideal online dating profile: agonizing over the perfect profile picture whose lighting masks our more conspicuous physical shortcomings, or painstakingly crafting a bio that glosses over our more obvious personality flaws. And, admit it, you’ve probably misrepresented how much you actually enjoy yoga, tacos or craft beers. You may have even selected a photo of yourself that is a few years old, or refer to yourself as an “extroverted introvert” (whatever that is). But, for the most part, your pictures and profile are rooted in the very real disappointment that is you.
Swindle doesn’t promise love, a relationship or even a date.
And that’s where Swindle, whose motto is “steal someone’s heart,” comes in. What makes Swindle unique among dating apps is pretty obvious from the get-go. When you open the app, it directs you not to your own Facebook photo feed but to a custom-made archive containing thousands of photographs of models and celebrities. And if pawning yourself off as a Ryan Gosling or a Lupita Nyong’o look-alike is not your style, then Swindle gives you photoshopping tools to administer a Weird Science–like boost to your own bust, jawline or appearance (eat your heart out, Snapchat!). The app also provides useful written prompts for composing a profile that is sure to titillate. Personal favorite: “Strangers often approach me on the street to remark on my … [ocean-blue eyes, curvaceous booty, puckish good humor].”
Then, when you’re ready, share your profile with the Swindle community (known as Swindlers). No need for a name, job or even location. Just the well-varnished truth, and a kick-ass profile that is guaranteed to land you a hundred matches, or your money back (the app is free to download). In addition, every Swindle profile is vetted by a full-time digital SWAT team to ensure that every Swindler sees only worthwhile misrepresentations and not simply white lies about being thoughtful or 6 feet tall.
Gone is the tyranny of presenting yourself truthfully, says Swindle founder Steve Janus. “Thanks to Swindle, the sum total of who you are as a person is not limited to a blurry car selfie and a bunch of garbage about loving dogs and long walks,” he says. “We are giving users a license to really experiment with who they are, and who they would like to be.”
Janus, 47, studied graphic design at the Rhode Island School of Design before managing an Applebee’s, a job he left as soon as Swindle hit its 1 millionth download. He says of his own experience with online dating that he grew tired of waiting for women to swipe right or “like” him for who he really was. So one day he uploaded a photo of Blake Shelton onto Tinder and started matching like crazy with women who were way out of his league. It was eye-opening, even if his profile was reported as spam and taken down by Tinder within 24 hours.
But in such a saturated market will Swindle ever gain a meaningful slice of the $2 billion per year industry? Janus thinks so. He claims that other dating apps like Tinder, OKCupid and Bumble are failing to capitalize on the most obvious advantage of online courtship for the digital suitor: his or her un-verifiability. A fake profile, he says, should not be treated as a bug, but as a feature. With Swindle, you don’t have to be worried about getting ghosted by a match because everyone who uses the service is a ghost. Swindle doesn’t promise love, a relationship or even a date. Rather it guarantees users the “most matches” and the “best matches.” And, in my case, it delivered. In just over an hour of using the app, I matched and chatted with a MacArthur “genius” grant winner resembling Rachel McAdams, a human rights lawyer/Victoria’s Secret model and three Kendall Jenners. It was exhilarating, even if deep down I knew I was probably opening my heart to the proverbial 400-pound guy on his bed.
It’s too soon to know if its approach is right, but Swindle is already planning its next ventures, including a Chatroulette-like app that takes digital dating deception to video. It’s all part of a plan to give online daters what they really crave, says Janus. “Sure, there are some who are searching for a meaningful relationship or a hookup,” he says. “But many are just looking for a great online experience and the promise of something magical, even if it never materializes.”
In other words, with Swindle, online dating becomes a journey, not a destination. Just be careful about which day you choose to embark.
About the author: Max Canard has previously written satire for OZY about his role in faking the Apollo moon landings.