My terrible online dates live on as zombies on Instagram
In our Love App-tually series, Mashable shines a light into the foggy world of online dating. Just in time for cuffing season.
Instagram has become a cemetery for my failed online dates.
I don't accidentally tap into their Stories, or stumble upon their posts as I aimlessly scroll through my timeline. But I unexpectedly trip on the graves of my failed romances while scrolling through a sea of smiling selfies or humble-braggy holiday snaps from my friends because of an unnerving Instagram feature.
Instagram's "Suggestions For You" feature, which pops up from time to time in timelines, shows you profiles it thinks you might be interested in following. Save the odd face of someone I went to school with, this particular feature is largely dominated with photos of men I've matched with on dating apps, gone on dates with, and decided, for whatever reason, that I'd rather not pursue a relationship with.
Once the WhatsApp messages have been archived, dating profiles unmatched, and all evidence of their existence destroyed, you'd think it'd be safe to say I'd never see hide nor hair of these people ever again.
But Instagram seems to have other ideas. No matter how many times I tap the tiny "x" over their faces, these zombies keep coming back.
The most unwelcome zombie of all is the face of a man who not only stood me up for a dinner date at my favourite restaurant, he also blocked me on WhatsApp and Hinge as I waited in the queue for our table. I met Matthew (not his real name) on Hinge last summer and we quickly established a mutual interest: Italian food. He asked me if I fancied going to Padella (a very popular, very delicious pasta restaurant in London) with him that week. Salivating at the very idea, I said yes.
Fast-forward a few days — and many flirty texts later — I fired off a cursory "be there in 20!" WhatsApp message as I stepped out the door for my date. What I hadn't known was that as I'd been changing into my date outfit, Matthew had been blocking me on every app we'd ever communicated on. Now, to add insult to very humiliating injury, his pasta-loving face keeps showing up in my feed as a suggested friend. Put mildly, I'd sooner cross the street to avoid seeing him than follow the guy on Instagram.
Another familiar face constantly lingering in this weird Instagram feature is a less egregious former date, who would only ever text me about his household chores. I'm not sure if I gave off some kind of Marie Kondo vibe, but I'm the least tidy person I know. The relationship was headed precisely nowhere.
Try as I might to rid myself of these online dating zombies, they just won't go away. It's upsetting to be confronted with periodic reminders of failed romances and, at times, really unsettling and deflating experiences, like the one with Matthew.
But it could be a lot worse. This feature is irksome for those of us who encounter people who ghost us or stand us up, but what if something more serious had happened? This feature could be even more disquieting for people who've been in abusive relationships.
Scott Muska, who works in advertising, says he is greeted by zombie dates on Instagram all the time.
"It's always people I've met on apps and then exchanged numbers with who show up," says Muska, 31. "Sometimes they're people I've gone on a date or a few with, and occasionally they're people I've spoken with but never actually met up with, which happens plenty if you're participating in online dating."
He says that being confronted with these online dates can be emotionally taxing.
"I start thinking about how things might have gone if I hadn't somehow blown it, or if we had ever met, and 'out of sight, out of mind' would probably be better for me personally," Muska says. "I do enough spiralling when I come across a post of an ex I'm already following."
The same thing happens to fashion blogger Urszula Makowska, 24.
"I went on a date with a guy and he ghosted me right after even though I thought the date went well. I was confused," says Makowska. "Apparently Instagram thinks I'd love to follow, but heck no."
As a rule of thumb, I'd never follow someone I'd only just swiped right on. And I'm pretty sure a lot of daters follow this rule. So, why the hell does this keep happening?
According to Instagram, the app mines data from your Facebook and Instagram usage to determine who appears as a suggested friend, but, it also taps into other data sources, like your phone contacts. If you've synced your contacts with Instagram, those contacts might also appear as suggestions. You might also spot people who've followed you on Instagram, but who you haven't followed back, as well as Facebook friends who you haven't followed on Instagram. Instagram doesn't use data from dating apps.
As someone who has never permitted Instagram to sync my mobile contacts with the app, I'm baffled as to why these failed dates — who I've never followed on social media — continue to haunt me. So, is there anything I can do to minimise this recurring irritation?
Sara Tasker — an Instagram expert who's written a book called Hashtag Authentic about building communities on the platform — recommends blocking anyone you really don't want to discover you, which should prevent them appearing as suggestions. In instances where blocking might not be necessary, check your permissions to make sure you haven't agreed to share contacts and delete contacts that you'd rather not see as suggested friends from your phone and your WhatsApp contacts.
Once our failed online dates are dead and buried in the recesses of our minds, we'd rather not dig them back up. If the cemetery of suggestions is too much for you, the age-old block might need to be deployed. Either that or you'll need to regularly purge your phone contacts.
Rest in peace, bad dates. But please, do so far away from my Instagram feed.
via Mashable http://bit.ly/2DCFv97
February 7, 2019 at 04:32AM