Conservatives need to restore the whole human experience, not just a heap of “broken images.”
What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief…
“The Waste Land,” T.S. Eliot
In T.S. Eliot speaks out about the despair of the postwar world. While the poem was penned in 1922, many developments since have only exacerbated the problems Eliot addressed–a changing world, where things no longer seemed to have any fixed meaning, “a heap of broken images.”
One such innovation is the emergence of dating apps. Although dating apps should be used to initiate physical dates, it is not happening on Tinder or other popular apps. A recent study, for example, found that only 50 percent of Tinder users have been on a single date with someone they met on the app. A similar study found that only 25% of Tinder users actually want to be in a long-term relationship. Dating apps have made romance a commodity with the swipe feature and the subsequent hook-ups.
Newer applications are trying to make the experience more personal. John McEntee, the CEO of The Right Stuff was first introduced to me at a Buckley Breakfast. The app is called The Right Stuff. The app was created in collaboration with Vibgyor Web USA, designed by Naked Development and is supported by Peter Thiel’s investments.
This app is only for single conservatives and works on an invitation-only basis. Two invitations are sent to conservative singles for each member who is accepted. Official launch of the app is October. The dating-app platform hopes to offer new features. It allows you to post events on the app. This means that anyone can post a event about going to concerts, Nationals games, political events, etc. and other interested people could “like” it. The user could then choose to tag along with them.
Women don’t have to pay for this feature. The app is completely free. However, premium versions of the service are available that women won’t have to pay. Other than this, however, when The Right Stuff describes itself as a “conservative dating app,” it means to say that it is a dating app for conservatives.
Dating apps in general have taken an increasingly liberal turn over the past few years. In 2020, for example, the app Bumble required users to sign a statement pledging support to Black Lives Matter. McEntee views The Right Stuff in the context of “build your personal”: if the liberal establishment holds an industry, then use the market for a more conservative alternative.
The right stuff will be the most popular in cities with conservatives. The Right Stuff is a great alternative to dating apps for conservatives.
I must admit, though, that it is something I am hesitant about. While I have no doubt that the app will succeed, I am concerned about its anti-social impact. These problems are inherent in dating apps and cannot be solved by The Right Stuff or other dating apps.
I agree with Eliot that modernism has an empty worldview. Apps for social media are based on the belief in radical autonomy. This is rooted in modernist ideologies. Conservatives must decide if it’s worth trying to “build our own” alternative to the inherently liberal companies. I feel that continuing to add to the “heaps of broken images,” as Eliot described, is a waste.
Dating applications give individuals complete control of their interactions and place power in their hands. It is no longer possible to stand face-to-face in public with someone you love.
In his brilliant essay, “Hiding Behind The Screen,” Roger Scruton examines how social media affects our interactions on social media. One Scruton points out that the user is the one who controls the whole experience. He can leave the app at any time during an encounter with someone else and never return to it again. He doesn’t have to confront uncomfortable situations. The app allows him to block, mutes, and “swipe away” from people or ideas he doesn’t like. According to Scruton, while the user may feel free in their space, he cannot be in yours. He is completely dependent upon whether you want him to stay there.
This robs us from true freedom. This robs us of true freedom, as Scruton states, “liberty is a process that involves real conflicts and real solutions, in a shared space where each person can be held accountable for their actions and words.”
Dating apps were supposedly created to promote in-person relationships, but they encourage you to hide behind your screen during the most crucial part of a romantic encounter: the first meeting.
When you see someone attractive in a room, and want to get to know them, there is no way to retreat. You cannot hide behind the screen. One must confront and deal with all of his or her nerves. This is a very exciting thing. This is deeply human. The fact that some dating apps do not allow it indicates our disconnection from a true human experience.
If John Keats had first met Fanny Brawne as a pixelated picture, scrolling mindlessly on an iPhone, would he not have said to her, “If I should ever feel for Man the first time what I did for You, I am lost?” I’m skeptical.
Another aspect of dating is missing from the app: risk. If you want to build a lasting relationship with someone, then you need to be open to rejection. You may find yourself pondering on this person until your next meeting, at which point you might be able to get the courage to ask her out. She may challenge your autonomy if you wish. Keats said it in “Lines to Fanny ,”
What can I do to drive away
Remembrance from my eyes?
Ay! My brilliant queen, they’ve seen!
Touch is able to recall. “O say, I love you
What do you need to do to get rid of it
In your old liberty?
A first real encounter with beauty is a chance to see the true essence of human nature. The night follows, you stay up all night, remembering every detail–smiles, eyes and laughter. Keats again wrote of Fanny
To-night, if I may guess, thy beauty wears
A smile of much delight,
As brilliant and as bright,
As when with ravish’d, aching, vassal eyes,
Lost in soft amaze,
I gaze, I gaze!
These little, but crucial, things can help you overcome nerves, fear and anxiety that come with asking someone out. These little things help us to be free and face our conflicts head-on. This is why the first meeting with another person, particularly in romance, can be so magical. This can seem terrifying because beauty judge us, but also saves us.
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While dating apps are certainly beneficial for some people, it has also taken away something very valuable. They have made us more responsible for the actions of others. This may be why half of Tinder users only have one date. Tinder’s very purpose is to make us retreat from the screens and then challenge us to go beyond them.
I think John McEntee, and his team from The Right Stuff, are trying to give conservatives something worthwhile. However, I believe we shouldn’t be trying to rebuild on a heap of “broken images” and instead should strive to restore the whole human experience. Although my view might be in the minority of those who believe so, these advances make it less difficult to live free. We are becoming less married, more divorced, have fewer children, and more unhappy in a world that offers endless romantic possibilities. This is what Scruton calls an evil.
It may seem like an inevitable evil, but it’s an evil we must strive to eradicate if possible.