Hinge’s voice prompts make it the only audio app we care about

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Screenshot: @ salty_caroline_ / TikTok, Hinge

It wasn’t too long ago that I was pacing the Los Angeles Hinge pool when I met a profile that looked vaguely promising. This included an audio response to the prompt “A social cause close to my heart” and against my best judgment, I played it. It said:

“I don’t know if it’s a social cause, but I like to create communities of Christian filmmakers in Hollywood. My goal is to bring people together in community, to build each other up through prayer, and then to push each other to make better art. This is who I am and I would love to be able to partner with someone in this field. So if you are interested let me know!

Considering that the most popular response to this prompt that I have found on this app has been something up to the “environment”, I couldn’t help but record this voice prompt really, uh, single, and trigger it in the old group chat. In response, I encountered a flurry of screen recordings of friends of similar, um, unique voice prompts, as well as entire TikTok compilations capturing squeaky, endearing, or hilarious audio responses from the app, ranging from Squidward and Kronk impressions, to men with names like “John” clarifying the complex pronunciations of their names.

Like many other TikTok users, @melissamerk prefaced their viral audio compilation Hinge released last month saying that she “was going to remove Hinge, but then they added the audio feature”. In the video, which has over 8.3 million views and 1.4 million likes, according to a man in response to the “An over-sharing” prompt that “I was feeling very stressed, so I went to the doctor and she gave me anxiety pills, so I tried them and ended up adopting six pet rats.” Another one TikTok compilation reposted on Twitter features a man proudly declaring he has four nipples, while another man raps Fergie’s chorus of “Fergalicious”.

You got the idea. Most dating apps have some sort of audio component at this point, like a video calling or video chat option, but as you might have guessed, cold calling isn’t exactly a mode of communication. popular. Hinge’s voice prompt feature, added in October this year, helps the app stand out in a saturated market, providing a recipe for both viral entertainment and a much less intimidating way to learn voice and someone’s sense of humor.

It doesn’t matter whether or not you are a professionally trained comedian, the voice prompt option can help anyone show a bit of personality beyond reading bios “Here for a good time, not long”, “looking for adventure” or “6’3 if that matters”. God knows we’ve been needing to spice up these apps for quite some time now. If you can’t think of a 30 second joke to record for a voice prompt, that’s fine and all, but if I read one more “I was arrested in [INSERT MAJORITY-NONWHITE COUNTRY HERE], “or” Going on a Trader Joe’s Race – do you need anything? “or a line on how you find silly astrology, I’ll throw my phone in a lake and maybe retreat to a nunnery.

These voice responses include only a few of the 13% of 5 million Hinge users who have added this feature to their profiles and in some cases have gone viral for it. As for the TikTok hitmakers who put these videos together, they rank among the 46% of Hinge users who the app reports have interacted with voice prompts, a spokesperson told The Verge. The two most popular prompts for audio responses are “One of my life goals” and “All I’m asking is you …”, depending on the app.

In some cases, people whose voice responses went viral were the recipients of Internet thirst and a barrage of DMs from interested parties. So, do you have to go viral for your voice prompt to meet you?

Molly Babel, professor at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver Department of Linguistics and co-author of a 2014 study of “voice attractiveness” said that Jezebel’s voice prompts can certainly increase the likelihood of a connection. Even if your audio response isn’t a viral comedy legend, it’s a more authentic way to communicate and let your personality shine through.

“The voice just carries a lot of information,” Babel said. “So much is opened up by this really, really rich voice signal that we have, and there’s a lot of social information that listeners can kind of tap into when deciding whether or not this is someone.” one that they would like to develop. a relationship with.

A key finding from his research, which focused on what straight men and women find appealing in a voice, was that many people tend to gravitate toward what is familiar to them, especially voices that are familiar to them. remind them of their community or even their hometown. “California listeners, at least, prefer voices that have a sort of prototypical California accent,” Babel said, referring to his research. “So you can think of this not only as listeners listening to the size and attractiveness of this speaker, but does this speaker look like someone who is part of my speaking community? “

It makes sense – it’s not uncommon to be attracted to someone who feels familiar or shares similarities with you. Having said that, I have never set foot in Europe in my life and would always be very happy to welcome a suitor with a British accent, and I have a hunch that many other American dating app users do it. would do too. There is no real recipe for the perfect, winning voice prompt, which Babel acknowledges, and she hopes people will keep an “open mind” about what they hear.

According to Babel, mainstream vocal attractiveness research has relied heavily on biological essentialism and the idea that cis, heterosexual men and women look for clues in someone’s voice that suggest they might be. an ideal and healthy reproductive partner. However, Babel again emphasizes that perceptions of voice attractiveness are not so straightforward.

“It’s not just this perfect biomarker that some evolutionary psychologists somehow want it to be, about Darwinian evolutionary fitness,” she said. “Corn [voice] contains so much information, like guessing someone’s gender, you can even guess the age, socioeconomic status, education, even the level of emotional investment in that conversation. Research, for example, has shown that people inferior their voices to express their sexual desire.

In other words, for better or for worse, when Hinge users add voice prompts to their dating profiles, they open up another dimension of judgment and evaluation from potential partners. . There are an endless amount of qualities that can be assessed, ridiculed and overanalyzed by the sound of someone’s voice. octave of someone’s voice.

It’s not clear whether Hinge’s voice prompt feature directly generates more dates, and I can tell you that not many people have particularly interesting things to say, nor the sound of someone’s voice. saying “looking for a gym buddy” makes that feeling more interesting. But arguably more importantly, the feature has been a boon to content creators, and those of us who would rather lie in bed laughing at the most strangely charming or psychopathic dating profiles on the internet than getting up, d agonize over choosing an outfit, and really go on a date.

Caroline Green, who calls herself @salty_caroline_ on TikTok, is primarily a Book-Tokker who dedicates her account to book reviews, but has the attraction of living the lives of other people online through TikTok vicariously. . In addition to the content of his book, Green maintains an ongoing, now four-part, series of Hinge Voice Prompt audio compilations that have racked up nearly 1.9 million views.

“The most of [the response] has certainly been mostly female, straight women, ”Green told Jezebel. “I think it’s because we all see and are used to the ridiculousness of men on dating apps, so it’s kind of that universal feeling of laughing or grinding our teeth together, like, ‘Oh, yeah, these are the cream of the crop. ‘”

She’s absolutely right: being a woman on a dating app can be a minefield of verbal abuse and rude, disrespectful, or even just plain weird. The voice prompt compilations on TikTok provide a much needed, almost feminist kind of comic relief that allows women to share a laugh, or just complain about the really weird experience of being a woman and looking for love. , sex or internet connection.

The key to creating these compilations, says Green, is to never skip a voice prompt while surfing the app.

“Some of them are just, like, a little boring, and I’m like ‘yeah, I’m going to override it,’ Green said. “But then, if that makes me laugh, it’s usually on some sort of specter on one side, these are really funny jokes.” And then on the other side of that, you have things that are so crazy that someone would put up a dating profile that it makes me laugh like, “Oh my god, what were you thinking? “

This latter type of humor has certainly found the most success when it comes to going viral on social media. Aside from those shock and pullback factors that have made voice prompts so popular, Green also believes voice prompts are the right feature amid a pandemic that is isolating and disconnecting so many people. As she notes, he helps many people who are “still hesitant to meet in person”.

“I think it just adds that more personal and much needed element,” she said. “Normally you won’t hear someone’s voice unless you do FaceTime or something at the start. But that way you can kind of get a feel for their personality which would be harder for them to assess. text or just from a profile, without having to meet you in person.

Green hasn’t been on a date with anyone just because of his vocal response, and either way, he’s not really dating and meeting people in light of the resurgent pandemic right now. But she says she chose to meet and talk to several people that she might not otherwise have, without their compelling or humorous voice prompts. As long as voice prompts remain a feature on Hinge, she says she won’t be removing the app anytime soon.

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