When I met my fiancée in 2006, the dating world was dramatically different.
Think about it…
Fast forward to today, and the ubiquity of social media – along with online dating sites like eHarmony and Match.com – has completely changed the game. People across the globe are now able to connect in new and profound ways.
In fact, according to USA Today, online connections now account for one-third of all U.S. marriages.
But there’s a dark side, too.
Not every online platform sends its users down “lover’s lane.”
In fact, these two may just send them to the Second Circle of Hell instead…
Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here
If, like me, you love literature, you may know that the Second Circle of Hell is one of nine circles depicted in Dante’s Inferno.
According to Dante Alighieri’s vision, Hell is divided into nine circles, each of which is characterized by a cardinal sin. (Who knew Satan was such a neat freak?)
For example, Circle 2 is home to those guilty of “lust.” Their punishment?
These unfortunate souls are condemned to an eternity of violent winds thrashing them around. They can never find peace or rest.
And these two companies should give users the same warning that Dante first read at Hell’s door: “Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here…”
Hell Tech #1: Who Needs Pick-Up Lines?
Back in the day, if you couldn’t find a date… well, you just had to try harder. Or take a lot of cold showers.
But today, thanks to MIT graduate, Brandon Wade, all you have to do is log onto a website or open an app, and fork over some cash.
It appears that Wade is attempting to catapult the traditional “booty call” further into seediness with his latest invention, Carrot. It’s an online dating platform that encourages people to – get this – bribe each other for a “date.”
I’m not joking.
The name comes from the “carrot on a stick” approach – an old trick used by cart drivers to entice their donkeys to move in a desired direction. And given how the company represents itself visually, not much has changed…
And the platform pulls no punches about how its model works:
“Carrot Dating is the world’s first app where users can bribe their way to a first date. With the right bribe, the dating possibilities are endless. Carrot is quick, easy, and gets straight to the point. Why message countless singles and wait for replies when you can just ‘dangle a carrot’?”
On the platform, bribes are broken into five categories…
Needless to say, the model tends to inspire somewhat shallow motivations, catering to folks who are just looking for cheap favors in return for a date.
So far, users have accepted over 30,000 bribes – and shockingly, zero marriages have resulted.
Looks like bribery isn’t the ideal platform for inspiring love. But then again, we already knew that after years of trying it under a different name: prostitution and adultwork escorts.
Hell Tech #2: Anonymous Affection
As the famous French novelist, playwright, and filmmaker, Marcel Pagnol, once said, “A secret isn’t something unrevealed, but something told privately, in a whisper.”
Hence the name of a mobile app and online website that hosts some of the world’s deepest, darkest secrets – Whisper.
According to its Founder, Michael Heyward, Whisper aims to encourage online anonymity, combat cyberbullying, and counter the vanity-driven “best possible self” posting done on sites like Facebook.
Instead, the platform acts like a virtual confessional, allowing users to post anonymous messages displayed over images that depict the context of the secret. For example…
However, Whisper also lets you send anonymous (or open) messages to other users.
And while not intended to be a dating site, it’s evolved into one. Except the environment is dominated by seedy desires, and it’s become a distinct anti-monogamy playground.
For example, if you’re browsing through other people’s secrets and you stumble upon a message that says, “Thinking about cheating on my husband tonight. Just too many good-looking men in San Diego,” and you happen to live in San Diego… well, you can message that woman directly for a casual meet-up.
In other words, Whisper satisfies the increasing “on-demand,” instant gratification culture. Only it’s giving the world’s worst kind of people an instant way to fulfill their dark fantasies.
And you know what they say… sex sells.
In May, Whisper secured $36 million in Series C funding. That followed $21 million in Series B funding back in September 2013. There are even some “whispers” of a potential IPO.
But let me tell you a little secret… don’t touch it with a 10-foot pole.
A Whisper IPO could prove valuable for investors. But you’ll just feel dirty about it afterwards.
Your eyes in the Pipeline,