If you’ve only just managed to wrap your head around mobile app Tinder and what it means for the dating and mating rituals of humankind, you may be interested to learn of the newest hook-up app, “Happn”.
French-made Happn takes Tinder’s model and ratchets it up a few notches. Here’s how it works: let’s say you’re walking through your local supermarket and spot someone cute who you’re almost sure was smiling at you. Are they interested? This is where Happn steps in. You don’t need to wonder whether the interest is reciprocated, just whip out your phone and quickly sign on to Happn.
The app scans a 250 m radius using GPS, and if your hot prospect is on Happn and is interested, voilà, the match is made. If not, well, there are no hard feelings and you can skulk off without any embarrassment. The company promises that user data is protected, and you can withdraw your interest at any time. Tinder popularized the concept of screening potential matches by only introducing people who showed mutual interest in each other first. Happn expands on this concept and lets you find out in real time.
The prospect of being able to connect with others without the risk of rejection holds a certain appeal. Older dating websites focus on letting users put up profiles and scan them manually to see who catches their eye. New generation dating technology, however, is all about whittling down the process to the bare essentials: photos in the case of Tinder, and real life missed connections in the case of Happn.
Since its recent launch, over 250 000 French users have decided to give Happn a try, and Londoners are following in droves. New apps of this kind are making profile-based dating sites look quaint and archaic, and more than a few have wondered aloud whether this trend spells the death of romance altogether.
Critics point to the app’s promise to remove all risk and vulnerability in human connections, making basic social skills merely another thing to be hacked and optimized. On the other hand, the supposed “hook up” culture could be seen as liberating for those with dating anxiety and, well, not too much time to waste.
A tool like Happn could point to a growing social trend that favors quick and easy connections and low investment in others. It could also be an exciting paradigm shift in the way we use technology to relate to each other. Only time will tell.