Swoon: Style vs Substance

Several weeks ago, I was goofing off on Twitter instead of reading because my brain was completely fried, when Tracy Pendergast mentioned the Swoon Dating App. I asked her about it and she explained what it was and said I should give it a try. I thought “I’m bored now, and it might make for a good blog post later. Why not?”

So, the way this works is you download it to your phone, give it whatever profile information it needs to get through the set up process, and then it connects to your Facebook profile to get one or more profile pictures, as well as a list of friends and interests that you’ve liked on Facebook. Then you’re taken straight to seeing pictures of people and shown how many common friends and interests you have. Technologically speaking, this is pretty cool. The technical downside to this is that an “interest” is anything you’ve liked on Facebook. That could range from movies to real hobbies to just liking Target and Amazon. And, really, who doesn’t like Amazon? I did send in some thoughts about how to make it more beneficial for those who choose to use it long-term, but there are a few things that I find very damaging about this concept overall.

Style vs Substance
The app is designed to show you pictures of someone and a handful of common “interests” and then you rate whether or not you would want to meet that person. That’s infinitely less information than you’d get on an online dating profile. It says nothing about religious preferences, family, or anything of substance when it comes to determining if that person should be pursued. The common interests I’ve seen overall have been pretty useless in helping determine whether to give the person a “yes” or a “no.” So, really all we’re given is a picture with which to make a determination.

Do you see the problem here? We’re given a handful of pictures, at most, to decide if a person is worthy of our time to even get to know. Which basically translates to “Is the person hot enough?” You may think that this is just a phone app and that there’s not a problem since it’s not “real life.” That’s what’s so dangerous about this. It subtly builds the habit of evaluating whether a person is even worth a conversation based solely on physical exterior. It doesn’t just cater to a culture that is materialistic and superficial, but it will actually serve to create and shape that culture as well.

Isn’t this a big enough problem already? The number one complaint I hear from women is that they’re only seen for how they appear physically. This goes for girls that consider themselves unattractive AND for girls who are as humble as can be but still know they’re attractive. With the first it’s complaints about guys not being interested because these women aren’t found to be beautiful, and with the latter it’s complaints about men only being interested because of how physically attractive the women are. From both men and women I’m hearing concerns about superficiality and cries for depth, but we continue to allow culture and media to influence our definition of beauty, and really the value and worth of other human beings.

We all want something deeper out of our relationships than just physical assessment and approval. I’m not saying that it isn’t important to communicate to the one you’re dating or to your spouse that you think they’re beautiful and to help build confidence and remove insecurities, but when the world of dating and marriage is ruled by a “those who are hot get the date” then we inadvertently communicate that men and women who aren’t perfect 10’s just aren’t worth dating. This cannot be the case.

Initially I wanted to blame porn, online dating, and magazines full of scantily clad women for this problem, but it goes deeper. Much deeper. The problem starts with our definition of beauty. We see it as only external and negate that the internal has any value. What happened to when beauty was defined by a woman’s virtue; by her grace, charity, humility, and compassion. What happened to when a man was considered masculine by being tough on problems but tender with his wife, and when his sense of beauty was defined by how meek, humble, compassionate, and understanding he was with his family and friends? What happened to men who treat women well, and women who wanted to be treated well?

I certainly blame the porn culture for part of this, but ultimately the problem is that we’ve stopped combating the ills of the human heart. We’ve sacrificed depth for “pretty.” We’ve sacrificed men being men for the sake of not telling anyone they’re wrong and need to grow up. We’ve sacrificed holiness for political correctness. We’ve sacrificed substance for style. And it’s killing us.

We need a redefinition of beauty. We need to redefine femininity and masculinity. And it doesn’t have anything to do with whether you work instead of being a stay at home mom, or vice verse. It doesn’t have anything to do with whether you watch MMA or like baking pies. I almost find myself asking the same question Martin Luther King, Jr. asked in his day. When will men and women be seen for the content of their character instead of their external appearance?

God help us.

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