It's a balmy summer night. I'm sitting outside a church turned theater in Inwood with a close friend of mine. We've just seen a hauntingly beautiful play that her husband starred in and directed. Having been to Inwood all of twice in my life, the heady mixture of the calm, still evening, the stone church behind us and the verdant park in front makes it feels like we're in another world -- or at least definitely not in New York.
Briefly interrupting the mood, I take out my phone to check my messages. I pass over the Facebook notifications and the new Instagram posts and my eyes settle on a text from my latest hinge match (whom I've never met by the way): "Let me know when you're back in Manhattan and down to meet up." Sexy, I know.
Rolling my eyes and moving on, I next observe a purple box with two letters next to it "Yo." The breadth of possibility inherent in all that "Yo" might mean causes my heart to momentarily swell as I contemplate jumping into a cab, and rushing over to the sender of the Yo where we will spend a beautiful evening entwined in one another's arms.
Actually, that's a lie. It does none of that. Aside from the fact that the sender is someone who I have no romantic interest in, if it were, the sending of said yo would be the farthest thing from a turn-on imaginable.
Backing up for a minute, if you haven't heard of Yo, it's the latest in a stream of utterly useless applications that literally allows you to do one thing and one thing only; send the word "YO" to a recipient of your choice. Stephen Colbert has a particularly hysterical take on it if that's your thing).
As a person who often markets herself as a digital creative, it behooves me to be an early adopter of all things techy, so upon hearing about this new invention, I had to see it for myself. A quick download later and as you can see, I'm not exactly impressed. And yet, this virtually pointless app has somehow managed to raise a million dollars from investors and just reached 1-million-users.
So why do I feel such vehemence towards this silly messaging service? It did nothing to me. It was just a little yo. I suppose at its core, I'm irked by yet another opportunity for communication to be reduced to an even more depersonalized level. A very tech-savvy friend of mine and I were discussing Yo:
Me: Is it the new booty call?
Him: To strangers...
Me: Haha tinder with one word
Him: I bet it's very different as a guy. One word and no hot pictures. What happens after the yo?
Me: The yo is the end of the line. Sucks to be yo hahah
Him: So you don't even get the phone number so you can text or call?
Though I don't think yo was created as another "dating site", the stream of aforementioned questions leads me to wonder if every single one of these apps are destined to be used for nothing more than another overly casual dating opportunity. In this space, it seems that we're rapidly spiraling into a black hole of miscommunication. Sending pokes that mean nothing. Sending texts that disappear into the ether. Giving your number out to everyone with a pulse with little regard for whether any communication ensues but rather obsessed with the idea of accumulating contacts and connections. This just seems to be another opportunity for people to communicate while putting in the least amount of work possible. We've gone from the sublime to the ridiculous; it is now acceptable to send a two letter pick me up.
So next time you're contemplating sending a "Yo" to a person in the hopes of a positive response, take a step back and consider what yo doing.
Follow Jamie Silverman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TalksWStrangers