Are some of us so addicted to technology that we’re now seeking “online only” relationships? A new and “innovative” app called Phrendly is trying to turn such relationships into an “emerging societal phenomenon” among singles. According to the app, its biggest benefit is that it relieves the pressure of first dates, first impressions and meeting in person. Or, you know, dating.
Before I attack the app, let’s hear Phrendly spokeswoman Melanie de Leon argue its relevance: “For many, sending flirty messages back and forth is what excites them most about using dating apps,” she said. Considering a LendEdu study recently found almost half of singles use apps like Tinder for “confidence-boosting” and “procrastination,” she’s not necessarily wrong.
“But since the majority of apps aren’t set up for this, there’s a lot of disappointment including mismatched intentions, missed dates, wasted time and hurt feelings. Our aim isn’t to replace real-life relationships—we’re simply delivering a new form of social entertainment that we see a demand for,” she continuted.
This woman does a fantastic job making this so-called phenomenon sound legitimate, despite its inherent idiocy, so I decided to try out the app myself. Here’s what I discovered: after a healthy exchange between “phrends,“ which the app deems two people once they’ve exchanged 10 messages, the person who initiated the conversation is encouraged to “reward their phrend for their time by sharing virtual drinks.”
Yep, fake drinks, or phake drinks. Phake relationships. Phake everything.
The app believes a fictional exchange of fluids is akin to asking a person out to coffee or drinks in real life, adding that “by recognizing that a person’s time is valuable, Phrendly is able to keep people motivated and focused while keeping time-wasters and scammers at bay.”
Motivated by what, exactly? Another text message that goes nowhere? Another virtual beer? Are we wrong in thinking that dating itself is motivated by the desire for romance, compansionship and sex? This app doesn’t seem to offer roads to any of that. We just aren’t buying it.
Oh, I forgot to mention that virtual drinks cost $10. So while the drink is fake, its value is real. This virtual beverage is then exchanged for “cash rewards” that are deposited into users’ bank accounts. So now we’re lightly heading into prostitution territory.
Despite its premise, people are biting. According to a press release, 80,000 people have signed up for Phrendly since its beta site that launched last year. In the last month, 16,000 people have joined. So if you want to start paying a lady for a text message or a phone call (if you’re lucky), you can download the app for iOS here. And don’t worry, Android users: the app will be available for you guys shortly. In the meantime, maybe schedule a real-life date before you get addicted to fake ones.