When he noticed her Hinge profile said that she previously worked for NASA, this man tried to undermine Dr Lauren Mc Keown by joking that she must be the receptionist. Her response was, quite simply, glorious.
However, rather than prompting the sort of engaged and interesting conversation you might expect, a Hinge user (and a Hinge user who has a PhD in planetary science under her belt, no less) has revealed that her illustrious career achievements triggered a very different exchange with a potential match.
Dr Lauren McKeown posted a screenshot of a conversation from the dating app to Twitter, showing how a man she’d just started speaking to reacted to the news of her incredible career. And, as you can probably guess from her caption – “and this, ladies and gentlemen, is why I am single” – it wasn’t great.
The images show the conversation between the two Hinge users, with Lauren’s match Mikey initiating the chat by focusing in on her “dorkiest thing about me” fact, which is that she “worked at NASA”.
“Fuck me that’s cool. Wait until I tell my parents,” he starts. However, shortly after Lauren accepted his request to start a conversation, he decided to continue the conversation without her input. “So what are you, like the receptionist? Joke, you look reasonably smart.”
Lauren, you’ll be pleased to know, refused to accept his comments lying down. Instead, she fired back an intelligent, eloquent and brilliantly cutting response, in which she informs him that she is “smart enough to know at least, that judging a woman’s intelligence based on her appearance might not be the best way to initiate conversation”.
In a postscript, Lauren added: “My mother is a primary school receptionist and is the wisest, most inspirational and kindest person I know. So much so in fact, my PhD thesis in planetary science is dedicated to her.”
There are so many things wrong with this interaction. From the way Mikey initiates conversation and continues to prompt a response from Lauren, it’s clear he’s interested, so why does he feel the need to put her down? Well – according to Lauren’s followers, at least – Mikey seems to be ‘negging’ her.
As described in The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists, the aim of ‘negging’ is to undermine a woman’s confidence by making backhanded or snide remarks – give a compliment with one hand, and take away with the other. It is about control, putting the man in charge of the interaction by pushing the woman to earn his approval.
“The idea is that a neg is a way to signal lack of validation,” tweeted one person, in response to Lauren’s thread. “It’s a light insult wrapped in a compliment to create curiosity in the other person. A neg shouldn’t be really insulting: This guy clearly was not negging but insulting, but I see what he was trying to do.”
Another, though, added: “Death to toxic dating habits, men. Just be a person, open with your intentions and express interest like normal human beings. Flirtatious but respectful compliments placed throughout a normal, healthy conversation is more than enough.”
Unpicking the interaction further, Lauren expressed her frustration that there’s an alignment with how a scientist, or even an intelligent, female must look.
Writing in her Twitter comments, she highlighted the huge issue of stereotyping for women working in STEM, noting: “I think it’s something we don’t talk about much on here – that people still THINK it’s a compliment to imply your appearance doesn’t align with ‘how a scientist looks’.
“The most infuriating part is this guy probably thought he was implying I looked good by that statement.”
Lauren added: “Simultaneously insulting everything I’ve worked for, scientists HE might not deem conventionally attractive, and hardworking people who might not be academic, but could trump me and him in other ways.”
Lauren later updated her followers with Mikey’s response to her message, revealing that he opted for the classic “don’t take yourself so seriously” approach to criticism. Ugh. One positive thing that’s come from this exchange, though, is that Lauren’s tweet caught the attention of Hinge who have publicly condemned the behaviour.
Addressing Lauren in a tweet, a Hinge representative noted: “Yikes. Hinge has a zero tolerance policy for behavior like this. We’re on it. And while we’re at it, your next Hinge date is on us.”