There is, in my opinion, nothing funnier than something that claims to be utterly unique but is actually very ordinary. Especially if it’s coupled with an absolute sense of sincerity and an utter lack of awareness that anyone would find it amusing. Looking through the website for FDBK, I kept switching between laughing out loud and feeling deeply, deeply creeped out.
FDBK is a new dating site that also seems to be on some kind of self-improvement kick. It’s due to launch soon and it will, apparently, help people become better partners. Also, it’s pronounced “feedback”, which I will not use because, again, it’s very silly.
FDBK’s Unique Selling Point
FDBK claims to be different, which is odd because the sample profile on their website looks exactly like Tinder, Bumble, Grindr or any other modern dating site. It’s got a picture of a pretty white man with, admittedly, very lovely hair, who claims to be a musician. There is some basic information and you can click either a tick or a cross, presumably to facilitate the match. So far, so ordinary. Next on the website is a list of all the different things that make FDBK “unique” – more on them later – and a “sample course video”.
Sample Course Video
This is where things go from normal to uncomfortable. The video is set to calming piano music that is reminiscent of Calm or Headspace, and features a weird number of white people experiencing emotions. I can just picture it: the director is standing in a place where white people congregate, pointing a camera at young couples and yelling “cry! Kiss her shoulder! Sigh, then look at your phone! Shout at your child! Storm off! Hug one person and push another away!”. None of the clips really have anything to do with, well, anything, least of all the creepy voice-over.
The narration is very strange. It identifies some truly toxic relationship traits, like only feeling interested in someone when they don’t want to have sex with you, or believing you should stay in a relationship because nobody else will want you, and then suggests that FDBK is the answer to this instead of serious therapy. It’s important to identify potentially harmful traits and patterns, of course, but the video seems to suggest that most of these issues can be solved by joining FDBK.
Logically, this means that they’re targeting people who believe they’re broken and offering them a fix, which feels both predatory and cultish. There are other parts that are just plain weird, like the analysis of “reproductive messages” in American music and the criticism of casual sex, offensively comparing it to nuclear bombs. So, in case you have been brainwashed by FDBK, allow me to remind you: as long as sex occurs between consenting adults, it’s absolutely fine and often very pleasant. Overall, the video and its messages feel insidious and weirdly hypnotic.
So aside from the attempt to control sexuality (which, incidentally, has been tried many times and has never worked), what makes FDBK special? They’ve conveniently listed everything out.
1- “All members manually verified”. Apparently, this means that users upload a selfie, which the site then checks. Not sure how this will prevent someone from lying about their age, occupation, income, relationship status or even their looks, given how easy it is to edit photos, but FDBK seems to think that this is going to make a difference.
2- “Anti-lying”. Isn’t this just, like, telling the truth? Either way, the only chance to get more information is to sign up for FDBK.
3- “Anti-ghosting/swipe culture”. Apparently, this is a “secret feature” and anyone wanting to know more will have to create an FDBK account. But really, what are they going to do? Send an agent to your house and force you to respond to messages?
4- “Anti-bot”. Let’s first note that a weird number of these start with the prefix “anti”. Here I was thinking dating was supposed to be pleasant and fun! Anyway, there’s an “advanced anti-robot challenge”, which is literally taken from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? I’m also concerned that FDBK wants to get between me and the most important robot in my life (my vibrator) which, simply, shan’t happen.
5- “Anti-bad first messages”. It really seems like FDBK crew are tying themselves up with this doublespeak! Apparently, there is some AI coaching to help members have good conversations. This is just very strange, and a little ironic given their fourth point. Do they want robots to talk to people or not?
6- “View likes for free”. Ok, sure, whatever. Not particularly unique. Next!
7- “Feedback data = more dates”. I’m going to paste the rest of this point, verbatim, from the FDBK website: “Get more dates by improving your profile with our mental health-friendly peer feedback data reports”. So… you rate your exes, and then this information is fed back to them in a way that doesn’t damage their mental health? I can’t imagine receiving a report from an ex after an acrimonious breakup improving my mental health, or making me feel more positive about dating in the future, to be honest.
8- “Healthier relationships”. Ok, difficult to quantify, but surely everyone wants their relationships to be good. Oh wait, it’s another way to get people to sign up for AI coaching and FDBK’s weird “healthy relationship” course. I’m still not convinced that any of this would be helpful: it all seems creepy to me.
9- “Excellent value for money”. Apparently, FDBK Premium costs £14.99 per month, which is pretty expensive, and it includes access to a catalogue of self-improvement courses. There’s nothing under this heading about dating, promoting your profile or getting more matches.
That final point seems to sum FDBK up quite nicely. It appears to be some kind of self-improvement site wannabe masquerading as dating. I don’t really know why: plenty of people want to know how to be better at relationships or how to become self-actualised, so why not simply set up FDBK as an online course? There definitely seems to be a sinister undertone permeating through the site. It feels cultish and more concerned with assimilating minds than anything else. Perhaps I’ll be proven wrong and it will help couples meet and set up healthy, loving relationships with clear communication and non-existent sex lives. It certainly doesn’t seem that way, though.