Life Advice



Science Advice Goddess: Bedder Later

Amy Alkon on


There are valid reasons to be a no-show for a date with no explanation, for example, the experience so many of us have of being abducted by aliens who don't have a charger that fits our phone.

This rudeness you're experiencing -- all these women treating you like a disposable object instead of a person with feelings -- isn't caused by app use, per se. The problem, as I explain in "Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck," is that we are now "living in societies too big for our brains": vast, transient "strangerhoods."

We didn't evolve to be around strangers and aren't psychologically equipped to live in a world filled with them because the psychology still powering our thinking (and behavior) today is adapted for small ancestral hunter-gatherer societies. Ancestral humans might've been stuck with pretty much the same 25 people for much of their lives (per estimates by anthropologists Robert L. Kelly and Irven DeVore) and might've have had a larger surrounding society of perhaps 100 to 150 people.

In the tiny ancestral world, the need to preserve one's reputation was a psychological police force that kept even rotten people from acting their rotten worst. (This is still a factor today in small towns where everybody knows everybody.) In contrast, strangers "meeting" in the virtual world -- on apps that are basically eBay for dates -- have no shared social context, so...bye-bye fear of reputational ruin!


In other words, when connecting via an app, it's probably a good idea to expect unreliability. You might even bring a book to read in case a woman ends up running a little late -- uh, intends to leave you sitting there at the bar until you decompose.


Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave., #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or email ( Follow her on Twitter @amyalkon. Order her latest "science-help" book, "Unf*ckology: A Field Guide to Living with Guts and Confidence."




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