Memes. Love them, hate them, think they’ll end up in a futuristic history book where our great-great-grandchildren are as confused and amused by us as we are by the messages uncovered carved into the walls of Pompei. Memes can be a good way to start a conversation with an old friend or possibly meet people with similar interests – or just for a quick laugh and then you continue scrolling through the endless banalities of Facebook. So, naturally, there’s a new dating app that plans to match people through memes.
I confess to sending memes myself to potential or current romantic partners. And I don’t regret it one bit! Some of them went on to become in-jokes or prompted conversations. It’s a bit like a cat bringing a half-dead mouse for an owner: Here is a thing. I thought you might like it. Love me.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be that deep. I could have spoken to someone about spaghetti, and then seen a meme about spaghetti and thought I should send it to them. That doesn’t mean that spaghetti is especially important to me or reveals some deep truth that an algorithm would be able to unlock. But there will always be people who’ll try to understand me through memes, though. Which, fundamentally, is very silly. The latest meme analysis (this is getting sillier) comes from a dating app called ‘Schmooze’ which shows its users memes, judges their reactions and then suggests potential romantic partners or matches. They can then chat, meet up, mingle, and maybe fall in love.
Let’s walk through this. I, like many people, am fond of dogs. When I see a meme about a dog on Instagram, I’ll probably double-tap on it to signal my approval. Instagram’s algorithm learns that I like anything related to #dogmemes and then shows me more when I’m on the explore page. If I was on Schmooze and swiped right on a dog meme and someone else did the same, the app’s algorithm might try to pair us up. But then what? I have a brief conversation with another person who likes dogs, but it seems unlikely that it’ll lead (ha) anywhere. We may disagree on dog racing, the ethics of breeding purebred dogs, or we just may not have anything to say to each other.
Of course, finding someone with the same sense of humour as you is often good. Endless pointless surveys have found that most people like partners that can make them laugh, which is such a strikingly obvious hypothesis it makes you wonder why researchers can’t dedicate more time to curing cancer. So maybe Schmooze is onto something – people who are happy in each other’s company and amused by the same things might well spend more time together and eventually fall in love.
Schmooze is currently only available in the USA, where it’s being beta-tested at colleges and universities. There are a couple of things to note here. Firstly, the app is acting like Facebook and clearly, but chances of it becoming the next Facebook are slim to none. Secondly, this certainly suggests that they’re planning on marketing to a very specific demographic of people who are (predominantly) middle/upper class, fairly intelligent, well educated, and under 25. Which is probably just as well: anyone over the age of 25 should not be going on dates where the main topic of conversation and core similarities/interests are memes. Much like feeling invested in a sorority or using a beer bong, memes are a young person’s thing and after a while feel immature and trivial. There’s nothing wrong with making jokes about current events, but at some point, your political information should come from watching the news and not seeing what someone shared on social media along with a cheap joke about Bernie Sanders’ inauguration outfit.
Many people would describe Schmooze as ‘innovative’, and I imagine that’s how the app would want to be labelled. But it is hard to look at Schmooze and see anything other than a gimmick. I won’t find the love of my life (or someone I want to have casual and very bad sex with) through memes. There seems to be a lot of new dating apps launching and each is trying very hard to distinguish itself. If I was going to meet someone it wouldn’t be because we liked memes, or only wanted to date on Thursdays, or we did the same stupid TikTok dances. Dating can and should be fun, but Schmooze’s ideas feel artificial and try-hard.