I feel sure this isn't the finest era of humanity's existence.
We've devolved into strange, navel-gazing beings, constantly pretending to be something we're not to beings who could be bots.
Technology, of course, hasn't often taken us out of ourselves.
Yet I've stumbled into a new app that may signal the end of human relationships as we know them.
It's called Consent Tracker. And, as far as I can make out, it exists to stop you from making out with a date until you both click on some app that signals you're ready to do it.
Please, I can only go by what the creators have written on their site. Sample: "Create a safer dating experience by building consent throughout your date."
Once upon a time, I thought dates were activities on which one built rapport. Now, they're where one builds consent.
What does this actually mean?
Again, from the site: "Once profiles have been created and verified you can invite others to connect with you (once they are verified) and within the app you are able to chat and mutually build your date."
So, after 30 minutes, if we're both still smiling, let's consent to compliment each other. Not excessively, mind you. Just a "you look nice" sort of thing.
I want to be joking. I want to believe Consent Tracker is joking.
Yet here is what I read: "With all agreements logged and stored using blockchain technology our aim is to remove those people who are not wanting the same level of relationship as yourself."
Do people really know what level of relationship they want to achieve when they go on a first date?
"I'm a level 4. How about you?"
Do we really need some sort of technologically recorded agreement before we've even set eyes on each other?
Forgive me if I'm flummoxed by this apparent nincompoopery. I did however contact Consent Tracker for elucidation, and a spokesman told me: "The app has been developed in response to the growing problem of assaults linked to online dating, and with the number of people using an online dating apps set to reach 340 million globally in 2019, it was felt there had to be a better way to manage this worrying trend."
I'm aware that dates can be treacherous affairs. You don't really know whom you're meeting. They could have nefarious intentions. They could merely be liars, which rather encompasses a vast swathe of desperate humanity.
Yet Consent Tracker's creators make clear that, despite its headline, this isn't exactly a safety thing: "The Consent Tracker App is not a replacement for the traditional safe dating practices, but can be used to help build a more respectful and consensual dating experience."
Since when has clicking on an app been more respectful than, say, looking someone in the eyes?
The app's makers, however, believe this is the epitome of a new fun. The app's spokesman told me: "The app will have a layered menu that daters use while on the date, from arranging that first date, picking where, café, bar, cinema etc and then
drinks, what type of a drink, food -- just as a normal date would happen."
I'm sure that in this world of constant micro-aggressions and slights, some might think everything needs to be in writing long before anything happens in a bar.
But here are a few of the allegedly enticing aspects of this app, according to its makers: "Location tracking, confirm consent throughout the date, create private notes on your date experience" (oh, very useful), and the quite mesmerizing "earn rewards as you move through your agreed date."
If you kiss him, you get 15 points toward a free drink at Johnny Rockets?
Do you really need an app to "track your dates and agree to move forward at a pace you are happy with or decline when not right for you"?
Has our ability to communicate become so lost that we need an app to make things clear?