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I’ve met a lot of people in New York who are intensely tribalistic, and that's what Raya caters to.”And this is what really irks me about the app—it confuses wealth and status with creativity and coolness.Raya says it values creative achievements, but they’re not interested in and stay in on Saturday nights to read Walter Benjamin instead of going to Paul’s Baby Grand. Recently, the app rejected a friend of mine—an Iranian-American Doctor of Philosophy. Because Raya is like being back in high school, where the hierarchy of popularity is superficial and undeserved.I voted for Bernie Sanders in the primaries, that sort of thing. Sure, it’s sort of cool to swipe past lesser celebs while drunkenly prowling for sex on your phone, but you’re probably never going to sleep with those people. In reality, Raya is full of C-List models, social-media managers who for some reason have a ton of arty photos of themselves emerging from the ocean, people named Wolf, people whose bios say things like “racing driver living between Monaco and Tokyo,” and, like, a million dudes who claim to be successful fashion photographers, but in reality have less Instagram followers than some dogs I know. Multiple times, snooty friends of mine have turned up their noses at the mention of Tinder, assuming I would use a “normal” dating app only if I’d never heard of Raya, or if—shock, horror—I’d applied and been rejected.I started telling The Artist about this sweet ER doctor I’d met on Tinder, when he choked on his mojito. ” He was referring to the “elite” dating app that accepts only people in creative industries, unless you’re superhot, in which case: Who cares what you do? To gain access to Raya, which launched in March of 2015, you have to apply, and then an anonymous committee assesses your creative influence—aka your Instagram—and decides whether you’re cool enough to be in the club.I shrugged and told The Artist that I just prefer Tinder—I’m a populist, not an elitist, ya know? (Hence why Raya is often called “Illuminati Tinder.”) The app has been growing in popularity, mostly due to press about its celebrity accounts—Joe Jonas, Kelly Osbourne, Skrillex, the hot one from But do we really believe that exclusivity makes something better?Instead, Raya creates the promise of something romantic, but it’s actually just people trying to be around other cooler people.” He shrugged.
Or at least, that’s the impression the app wants to give off.Alan has been in an on-and-off relationship with Raya for more than a year now (currently off).“Tinder lets everyone in, so you have to swipe through an amazing amount of garbage to find someone in your bracket,” Alan said, applying sunscreen to his nose.“It’s not that I'm anti-exclusivity or against narrowing things down, but Raya just seems to attract the wrong people.It’s the Soho House world of elitism: They want to draw young, cool artists, but they actually just attract rich people, and dudes in advertising who collect vintage cameras as decorations.” As for the girls on Raya? “It’s an endless stream of photos of girls doing splits on the beach, or a photo from the one time they modeled for, like, Alan’s main pet peeve about Raya is that, the few times he met girls through the app, what he’d thought was genuine flirtation turned out to be a networking ploy—they were just actresses who wanted work.
Obviously, part of the reason we all want to be successful is so we can fuck better people. But to institutionalize sex-as-networking is pretty disturbing.