The office watercooler cannot slake this thirst.
Office Romance

Feeld wants to be workplace Tinder, so what could possibly go wrong?

Would you reveal your feelings for a workplace crush?

Would you do it through workplace chat?

With a new bot called Feeld for Slack, checking yes or no to the fraught question of “do you like me?” will be all too easy.

In many places, Slack’s instant messaging app has already taken over email as the dominant mode of communication; with Feeld, Slack can now be used as a Tinder.

Feeld wants us to “embrace feelings” at work through its Slack integration. Once it’s installed, you can tell your office crush that you have feelings for them by @’ing them by name.

If your crush reciprocates by @’ing you back, Feeld will let you both know, so you can one day tell your children you met through a bot. 

How does Feeld work?

All of this will likely work — if you can get it into your company Slack. The ease with which one person can integrate a dating bot into a company’s communications, however willing or unwilling those employees may feel about the idea, does raise many human resources red flags.

Feeld’s manifesto does note that “consent is key,” “work is work,” and “Discrimination sucks (and is illegal),” so the company is not unaware of the dangers its app is unleashing.

It’s just forging ahead, regardless. There’s comfort in the formulaic yes/no safety of Feeld’s bot that treats desire as a problem that can be solved. From Feeld’s perspective, dating is already so complicated and contradictory —why not save the user time?

Feeld founder Dimo Trifonov said he created the app, then-called 3nder, as a way to help people explore polyamory after his girlfriend told him she had sexual feelings for other women.

“The app was a way to show her that there are many people like her and like me,” he told Fast Company. Now, with Feeld’s bot, workplaces that use Slack can now bring desire into professional contexts, but does any workplace actually want this feature?

Feeld infiltrates the Washington Post

Ladders reached out to Feeld to find out if there are any workplaces actually integrating the Feeld bot into their Slacks. We will update when we get a response.

Until then, we briefly had a live test case on Monday afternoon during the fraught moments that Feeld was activated for The Washington Post‘s Slack.

One Post social media editor made a play on words for the paper’s new motto, “Democracy dies in darkness,” joking that “Democracy dies in thirstiness.”

David Farenthold, the Post‘s Pulitzer-prize-winning investigative reporter had a different take: “This is why i don’t use Slack. Every time I log in, it’s all GIFs and hormones.”

Journalists on Twitter speculated whether it was “some random admin who got the request and just OKed it” or something more nefarious was at play.

Lisa Bonos, the Post’s dating editor, later said she was the culprit who had introduced the bot for “about 30 seconds” as part of a future story. Trifonov told Bonos that Feeld would work better in startups or “zero-hierarchy companies” than at the Post. Although Trifonov argued that having a workplace crush is not illegal, acting upon it sometimes can be, and startups are less likely to have human resources departments.

Slack has always been a distraction

In some ways, it makes sense why Feeld would choose Slack as its open platform of choice to test out its dating Lord of the Flies.

Slack is already purposefully merging work and play with GIFs, emoji and smartphone notifications that can grab your attention at a moment’s notice —even when you’re at home.

As one Atlantic writer warned, Slack’s new emoji status feature is a cutesy way to let your co-workers know what you’re doing at all times. It’s also one more way for Slack to take up more of your attention on a messaging app and away from your own responsibilities: “people could conceivably feel pressured to describe what they’re up to at all times, in order to explain to their colleagues why they might not immediately reply to a Slack message.”

Through its international Slack group, Feeld is indicating its hope for global reach where channels are popping up for specific cities.

The conversations in the newly created #newyork dating channel are pretty tame so far with individual members sharing their favorite neighborhood restaurants as icebreakers. For now, it feels like a Reddit thread, or a middle school dance floor where boys and girls eye each other from the punch bowl. Time will tell if Feeld moves beyond a quirky novelty of a human resources nightmare.

Does anyone who is not a journalist actually want to test this out in an office? If any of you hear of this happening, email me. (Don’t Slack me.)