These days, meeting dates online is the norm. In fact, we're at the point now where if you tell people you met someone offline (like in person, for real, IRL), they look at you like you’re crazy. Many companies have tried to marry (ha ha, pun intended) online and offline dating, such as How About We, which calls itself The Offline Dating Site, or Grouper. And now an app called LoveFlutter is throwing another idea into the bag.
LoveFlutter recently facilitated an event called "Paper Bag Dating." No, it’s not for those days when you get a zit and want to wear a paper bag over your head (we’ve all been there); it’s an event that combines LoveFlutter’s “say no to shallow” philosophy with speed dating. Participants wear paper bags over their heads (I know, this is beginning to sound like an asphyxiation fetish party, but it’s not), with holes cut out for the eyes and mouth. And yes, everyone gets to decorate his or her own paper bag.
So what exactly happens after you put a bag over your head (other than messing up your hair and potentially sweating profusely)? Everyone meets each other round-robin style with a big reveal at the end . . . and extra time to mingle with the few people who might not have
hat paper bag hair.
It's a clever gimmick, but not a terribly practical one. How can anyone talk to someone with a paper bag over their head without feeling uncomfortable? Dating is awkward enough as it is. It’s also safe to say that paper bag dating is not for the claustrophobic.
The bigger problem, though, is that this type of dating, while noble in intent, ignores the reality of the human psyche. Way before the Internet, and even today, love happens when there are no profiles, liking or any further information available other than what someone looks like. Why? Because we are, at heart, superficial creatures.
The founder of Tinder, Sean Rad, seems to agree that the way someone looks is more important than any information a profile could give us:
“When was the last time you walked into a bar and someone said, ‘Excuse me, can you fill out this form and we’ll match you up with people here?’ That’s not how we think about meeting new people in real life.”
Tinder is successful because it does mirror the way people meet in real life, instead of relying on an algorithm. And while Rad isn’t a scientist, science does back him up. Dr. Helen Fisher of Rutgers University says that attraction is a primal instinct:
"I think we can all remember times when we felt an instant attraction to someone we barely knew. It has a practical purpose: In the animal kingdom you can’t spend three months discussing your résumé; you need to feel instant sparks to start the breeding process."
So what can we all take away from paper bag dating? Honestly, nothing most daters don’t already know. In our instant gratification swipe-right-or-left culture, if we're seeking a relationship beyond a hookup, it’s important to get to know a person for who they are—but only if, when we first see that person, we can’t wait to rip their clothes off . . . not their paper bag.