From Bumble and Tinder to Hinge and Raya, it’s safe to say that singletons love dating apps. For most of us looking for a partner, more than one and anything in between, they have become the most convenient way to ‘get to work’.
We can only assume that the Oxford University student—whose name is yet to be revealed and is only known as the ‘OxShagger’—who created ‘OxShag’, a website designed to “spice up the Oxford casual sex scene which is currently underwhelming.”
The site allowed students and staff members alike to select other students or staff at the university that they wanted to “shag” all while hiding behind a computer screen. Eventual matches were only to be revealed on this year’s Valentine’s Day, Tuesday 14 February 2023.
Unfortunately for the OxShagger however, the platform stayed live for less than a week before it was taken down due to a data breach. To put it simply, the website worked on an opt-in basis, not an opt-out. This in turn meant that every student and staff member from Oxford University—aka one of the UK’s most prestigious universities—had their private information divulged for the rest of OxShag’s users to see.
Ever since the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal—and many more times since then—data privacy has been a huge conversation, for good reason. But it seems the OxShagger didn’t learn from Meta’s mistakes.
When it launched on Saturday 7 January, the site asked students to enter their university email address before being allowed to select a list of any 20 staff or students at the university who they wished to have a “casual shag” with. Using the school’s internal email system, the platform’s founder was able to collect every student and staff member’s name and display them on OxShag without their knowledge or consent.
If those who were invited onto the platform wished to join it, curious enough to see who had matched with them, they only had to pay a £3 fee. But the manner in which the OxShagger had used the university’s email system to access and spread personal details about uninformed individuals inevitably led to their website’s ban.
Once OxShag was brought to the university’s attention for misusing its internal IT database, it was the beginning of the end for the short-lived dating platform.
Defending themself to The Tab, OxShagger claimed that Oxford students’ names and colleges can be found anywhere on the internet. Despite saying they do apologise for the inclusion of students’ personal details and admitting they “fucked up,” the creator added that it has “been blown massively out of proportion” and that people need to “loosen up a bit.”
“Like seriously, it’s your name and college! The site was only up for a few hours and the data that was available was seriously unlikely to cause any harm,” the OxShagger continued.
After receiving numerous complaints, they did try to ‘rectify’ their mistake by reworking the website to enable users to opt-in for their names to be listed as well as lowering the entry fee to £1 instead of £3. Still, the damage had already been done.
Among the countless angry comments left by students on Oxford blue, one stated: “As a victim of domestic violence who goes by a new name which has not yet been updated in my university email, I am terrified at the prospect that my abuser could easily find this and trace me to my college.”
Another went on to say: “Upsetting is putting it lightly. It feels violating to be sucked into a strange sex game without any knowledge of it beforehand; the lines crossed here are astounding. Not only was consent not sought prior to the site going up, but it is also publicly available, proving worrying for safety reasons. The original caption to their Instagram post was pushing for a progressive, sex-positive stance against ‘conservatism’, but there is nothing more progressive than respecting people’s boundaries, especially when it comes to being sexualised unwittingly. Cultural, religious and purely personal reasons are all valid. At university level, I thought we had progressed beyond these demeaning sexual power plays, especially at a university like Oxford.”
Despite efforts from the creator to make the site palatable to all, Monday 9 January saw the complete deletion of the website along with confirmation from the student behind it that it would not be running this term. “At the beginning of next term, after a period of reflection (and some more resoundingly mediocre casual sex), I hope attitudes will have changed and I will poll the community to see if people would like me to give this another crack,” the OxShagger revealed. Time will only tell if Oxford University students are willing to put their faith back into the slightly shady shagging site.
Ever since 2016, the internet has made a tradition out of celebrating surveillance capitalism in the guise of tailored reports that recap our habits of the year. Following the launch of Spotify Wrapped—the coveted feature that fans routinely grind towards and base their entire personality around when it drops every December—the concept of a ‘year-in-review’ has gripped most digital services today.
While Apple Music has its revamped Replay feature and YouTube Music offers a Recap experience, Deezer releases its summaries in the form of #MyDeezerYear and Amazon Music generates rather disappointing playlists for users. Heck, even Reddit has its own Recap feature that illustrates the amount of time you spent shitposting and visiting various subs in the hopes of finding a custom long Furby.
Over the past few years, Spotify Wrapped’s impact has catapulted the feature as a cultural reset among gen Zers and millennials alike. Today, both generations expect every single online platform to track and judge their data in exchange for aesthetic statistics they can share with the rest of the world. And, as it turns out, their dating lives are no exception.
A Spotify Wrapped report essentially gives you insights about your top five artists, genres and songs, audio personality (what even is Sorrow Escapism Liminal Space?), and amount of minutes listened. Now, imagine such information being pulled from your miserable presence on dating apps like Bumble, Tinder, Hinge, OkCupid, and more.
If you ask me, the report would read something like this: “In 2022, you swiped right on 26 crypto bros and 38 people named Matt. You went on a sum total of 25 dates with your matches, out of whom 5 kittenfished you, 13 ghosted you right after, and 2 blocked and reported your profile to our teams. You took 150 screenshots of cringey profiles to share with your WhatsApp group chat, and even rage quit our app 7 times. What was that all about, huh?”
“You also received 57 unsolicited gym selfies, but to top things off, you were among the top 1 per cent of users who slid into people’s DMs at 3 am! Congratulations, your dating app rizz is doomed beyond recovery!”
It’s worth noting that the conversation about dating apps having their own year-in-review feature has been making the rounds for a while now. In 2020, comedian Grace Hayes went viral after she uploaded her DIY Bumble Wrapped on TikTok. Leveraging the green screen effect, Hayes curated #bumblewrapped on the video-sharing platform—with 44,800 views and counting. The clip was so popular that even Bumble left a comment stating: “This is AMAZING. Inspiring us 😏😏”
The following year, software engineer Niko Draca created a third-party website for Hinge users to generate their own Wrapped reports. “First thing you’ll see is how many people you encountered on the app and how many you said yes to,” Draca explained in the widely-circulated clip. “Then you’ll see all of the likes, rejections, matches, etc over the year. You can also see what time of the day you sent the most chat messages, how many people you chatted with in total, and how long those conversations lasted.” Apart from the top three emojis, the website additionally provided users with a word cloud made up of the terms they deployed the most in DMs.
Draca was undoubtedly the trailblazer for Hinge Wrapped, and it’s safe to say that the dating app has been real quiet since the video went viral.
Fast forward to 2022, TikTok users have now taken things up a notch with a trend called ‘Dating Wrapped’—where they are seen brutally recapping their past year in romance in hopes of manifesting a better love life. Here, insights are no longer restricted to a single dating app. Instead, they focus on the participants’ relationship exploits in general, including how they met their matches, what they did on first dates, and how many times they cried over someone.
All of the data is then collated onto… a PowerPoint slideshow, and the deck is later presented using a laptop angled towards the viewers.
“[This is] truly one of the most depressing things I’ve ever done,” said Toronto-based TikToker Alexandria McLean in her video which is believed to have kicked off the trend. “I went on 21 first dates… Yikes! I met 66 per cent [of matches] on Bumble and 33 per cent on Hinge. In terms of where we went, activity and dinner are tied at 30 per cent, coffee [and] walking dates [are] at 28 per cent, and drinks are 42 per cent. I don’t know why I went on so many walking dates, I hate walking dates.”
“In terms of who ended it, 90 per cent [of matches] ended it with me. Honestly, [that’s] a low number considering I’m a walking red flag,” McLean continued. “So, if you want to go out and want to be a part of my 2023 Dating Wrapped, hit me up!”
Shortly after McLean’s video floored TikTok, users started querying the creator about the PowerPoint template and font she’d used for her presentation. It even paved the way for the rise of #datingwrapped, now with 8.1 million views and counting.
“If any of these men see this, I want you to know that you’re not special and you’re just a number to me,” TikToker Amber Smith captioned her video, which has since garnered over 3.1 million views. In the clip, Smith detailed that she went on 18 first dates, was handed two parking tickets, and spent a total of $383.36 on her matches. “I wish I had not calculated this number,” she stated. “What could I have done with this money? Literally anything else would’ve been better.”
As of today, the concept of Dating Wrapped has evolved to include star signs, age gaps, red, beige and pink flags, the number of hoodies participants have stolen from their partners, STIs they’ve treated, as well as the number of tattoos they regret getting. While some bestow digital awards to their dates, others are seen creating introvert and queer editions of the trend.
Given how 2022 still has a couple of weeks left to conclude, I wouldn’t be surprised to witness the introduction of even more metrics to publicly analyse our love lives on the internet. Maybe the presentations can have a section where people note the different aesthetics and subcultures they’ve dated in the past year?
At the end of the day, no matter how many slides you choose to include in your deck, the aim of Dating Wrapped at its core is self-reflection. So, you’re good as long as you walk away with actionable insights and don’t bring all the negative energy gathered in 2022 into your love life in 2023.
If you’ve stumbled across #datingwrapped on TikTok before, you might have noticed comments along the lines of “Don’t be shy, drop that PowerPoint template,” and “What’s the name of the font you’ve used? Where do I download it from?” Sure, these remarks might just be pointers that ultimately help others jump on the trend, however, it’s also another incognito factor that aids the popularity of Dating Wrapped.
With a presence that can be traced back to the COVID-19 pandemic, PowerPoint presentations have become the zeitgeist of gen Zers in cyberspace today. Be it to mansplain our hobbies or interests to others, give a crash course about our favourite series nobody asked for, plot moves in Clash of Clans, prove “the One Piece is real,” or justify that Chainsaw Man’s Makima is worth simping for, slideshows have become our weapon of choice to present peers with digestible chunks of information about the most unhinged topics.
If you really think about it, the resurgence of PowerPoints can be linked to our pathetic eight-second attention span. Gen Zers crave dynamicity in everything they are exposed to and what better way to explain something to the generation than using infographics they can breeze through?
The format also harbours parallels with LOL graphs or ‘silly graphs’ that first gripped meme culture in the mid-2000s. The statistical representation essentially doubled as a visual aid—designed to explain the most non-academic and trivial subjects “for teh lulz XD.”
Back to the case of Dating Wrapped, the trend checks out—considering how gen Z Spotify fans have proved to be least concerned about how Big Tech uses their personal data. “I wonder about all my stats on Youtube, Discord, Instagram,” an enthusiast previously told SCREENSHOT. “I wish there were things like Spotify Wrapped in each of them where we can see all our data like the most watched video, channel etc. And even further, I wish god would show us data of our life.”
All that being said, the possibilities of dating apps implementing a Wrapped-like feature seem bleak for the foreseeable future. Until then, you can choose to follow TikToker @cobiscreation’s advice and sneakily screenshot your crush’s Spotify Wrapped report the moment they share it on Instagram. You’ll know the exact songs and artists to stream the next time you guys hang out together.
Who knows, maybe it’ll work wonders for your 2023 Dating Wrapped… or not.