Swipe Left to Feed Your Bias

Online dating has reached the pinnacle of convenience.  These days apps allow you to indicate your interest or lack thereof with a simple swipe of the screen.  Swipe left if you’re not interested and swipe right if you are.

To make these choices we are using the most rudimentary tool, instant physical attraction.  Research and commentary have shown that these apps have become a breeding ground for racism wrapped in a cute little package of preference.  Every day people are swiping left just because the colour of someone skin doesn’t please them or maybe they are swiping right because they have a fetishized view of skin colour.

Yes, in this day and age men still fantasise about Black women.  I have had friends tell me that men have told them just looking at the deep brown colour of their skin is appealing and I can’t count the number of times that men on dating apps have described me as black and beautiful always adding my skin tone to any compliment that they give me.

But I digress.  The issue that I really want to talk about is that the world of swiping for preference goes a long way to reinforcing biases.  With no attempt to introduce non-physical attributes we are relying on our stereotypical views, and past experiences of people who look like the dating pool to make decisions and bias like any muscles gets stronger the more we use it.  So, the more we use our biases to discern the groups who we find attractive the more our bias grows.

Now I know I know this book looks mainly at the workplace, but I believe there are implications for the workplace.  Imagine I am swiping left on the way to work each morning, busily strengthening my biases, and then I come to work, and I have to make decisions that relate to people.  Maybe I’m sitting on a recruitment panel interviewing Black women and white women.  Is my brain unconsciously swiping left as I interview the Black woman because that isn’t my preference?

I haven’t done any research in this area, I am just sharing my humble opinion that online dating may be increasing the likelihood of biased decision-making in relation to Black women at work.