A couple of weeks ago, an ad kept popping up on my Twitter timeline. Typically I don’t pay much attention to the ads, especially if it’s one for a fast-food company, overpriced cable or a cellular-service company.
Here’s what the ad looked like:
And it wouldn't go away. Every time I logged onto Twitter, I was hit with this ad.
Yes, yet another dating app to add to the likes of Tinder, OkCupid and Match. But this one claims that it’s different because it’s for educated and professional black folks! As someone who’s no stranger to online dating, I can’t say that my interests were immediately piqued. Probably because of the term “sophisticated.” I thought to myself, just because I’m an educated professional, does that mean I’m sophisticated? I immediately looked down at the $1 Old Navy flip-flops I had on. They were definitely not sophisticated.
Now, in the world of online dating, studies show that the odds are stacked against black people, particularly black women. A popular OkCupid report basically said that black women were contacted the least of all races, even by black men.
In a nutshell, these online dating streets are hard for black people.
And that’s where Meld hopes to fill the void. But will it be successful in a world where Black People Meet and Black Planet still exist?
Just like the popular Tinder dating app, Meld uses not only your Facebook page as a login but also your LinkedIn account. Yes, it’s all up in your work history. I guess that’s how it tells if you’re a professional or not.
The app was created by Raissa Tona and Wale Ayeni, graduates of Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business. And in a recent interview with Fast Company, they explained why such an app was needed.
“On all the major dating sites—OkCupid, Match.com, and eHarmony—it’s the same story: Black people—including professionals—have the lowest response rate out of any group,” Tona said. “They spend the most time reaching out and expressing interest, but do not hear back from the people on the other end.”
Tona also pointed out that the existing sites catering to black people don’t exactly cut it when it comes to having educated black professionals.
And, says Ayeni: “The reason that we believe we’re creating something that is unique and differentiated is that Meld is a curated list of educated black professionals.”
So I figured I would install the app on my HTC One. But then I got to this screen:
And thought to myself, “No.”
Yes, I’m a black professional, but I’m not the type of person who dates only those who are deemed “professional”; nor do I want an app all up in my LinkedIn business. And what if you’re a person without a LinkedIn profile? Does that make you even less sophisticated and professional? I guess you’ll have to stick with Black People Meet.
But I finally gave in and went through the registration process, out of curiosity. The app only lets you change your name and import Facebook photos, and it fully displays your job title and company. Now, why would I want random strangers knowing where I work? That’s a bit invasive. The app pretty much works the same as Tinder. Swipe left for “no” if you don’t like a photo (or job title), and right for “yes” if you like the photo (or job title). If the dude (or woman) on the other end swipes “yes” on your photo, it’s a mutual match and then you’re allowed to instant message each other.
In any event, the app is currently available for download on iTunes and Google Play, but it is still in the early-launch stages, and depending on location, your pickings may be slim. In a 500-mile radius, the same 30 people popped up.
In the land of dating apps, this one may be perfect for those black people who pride themselves on status, how many professional acronyms they have at the end of their name and their tax bracket.
But then again, how sophisticated are you if you’re using the term “cuffing season”?