Alison Taylor on relationships: My inner dialogue is telling me that downloading dating app Happn could be good-scary


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The Independent Online

There's nothing quite like the reaction when you tell people you've never been on Facebook before. This is what happens:

Them: "Never?"

Me: "No, never."

Them: "You've never been on Facebook? Never?"

Me: "I've never been on Facebook."

Then comes the long period of narrow-eyed staring where they work out what's wrong with you.

I found myself in this situation last Wednesday night in St Pancras station when I met with Didier Rappaport, the co-founder of dating app Happn (the new Tinder, according to him). It was quite a romantic scene, really. Him, the sexy silver-fox French dude with his fancy technology and strangely appropriate name on one side of the track. Me, the mysterious weirdo who's never 'poked' anyone in her life on the other. Him about to board a train to Paris, me about to go and get my back manipulated in Waterloo.

Didier finally breaks the silence first:

"You are really vintage!"

(Just imagine that delivered in a sexy French accent and expressive arm movements.)

"Thank you," I guffaw, narrowly avoiding spitting out my chenin blanc. "I think."

When you are a Luddite who's never gone over to the Mark Zuckerberg dark side, downloading a Facebook-enabled dating app is a complicated business. Apart from the fact that I'm eons behind on the tech lingo, there's also a moral issue at play. It's a big deal to suddenly join Facebook when you have thus far been fighting against it for an invisible cause of your own invention. I imagine it's how vegetarians feel when they finally succumb to bacon.

Facebook scares me, dating apps scare me. All those orange-faced men with arms around random women and holding aloft outlandish tropical drinks in foreign climes are living in your phone. And with Happn, they can know where you are too because it works with GPS. The orange-faced men appear in a feed of other orange-faced men, if and when you cross paths with them. This is also scary. But, as my inner dialogue is telling me, it could be good-scary.

So, here I go. I have no fear because I am a journalist. I am committed to hunting down stories, putting myself in the line of fire, going undercover. That sort of thing. I must do this for the greater good! It's just happenstance that I got an email inviting me to meet Didier to talk about the app but, hey, why not? As such a hopeless novice, I might as well go straight to the top, right? To be continued...