If dating apps were at a pub, you’d find Tinder by the open bar, a little drunk, chatting up girls and spewing jokes for size. OK Cupid would be there by the wall, distracted by yet another long-winded personality test. Then you have HighBlood on the couch. In his green checkered polo, blue striped trousers and orange Pumas, he sits there with a strangely chaste yet fiery look in his eyes. “No maids, no uglies and especially no escorts,” he mutters to himself. It’s been three hours in a room full of women but, no luck. Odd.
HighBlood is the Donald Trump of dating sites. It is offensive and overtly geared to promote elitism and racism. Anyone who wants in will have to go through a “covenant”, whereby a potential user will require at least three approvals before becoming accepted. If all fails, he can pay $100 or wait another 12 hours to try again. Once the app is up and functioning, a user can judge a potential date based on looks and salary, well, because a book is more than its cover.
While people have a right to prefer, advertising itself with “no Banglas, no maids and no uglies” was a dick move. And wait for the cherry on top: the ad ended with the assurance “just pure quality, like you.”
“I made those statements as publicity bait,” said founder Herbert Eng, whose ears must have been on fire since. He’s a skinny bespectacled 30-year-old who studied at NTU’s Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information. If you remember Fessup, the anonymous confession app that tanked. That was him.
HighBlood might be the silliest thing since ramen burgers, but it brings you to question why. How is it the product of an intelligent university graduate? Well, I met Herbert. The guy is a borderline sociopath (his own words) who has been rejected all his life. He badly wanted to be an officer in the army, but that didn’t happen. He was ostracised at university, had no friends and constantly gets rejected by women. “It has taken a toll on my psyche,” he admits. “It is because of societal rejection that I feel propelled to dominate this portion of the industry.”
But doesn’t HighBlood encourage rejection? “I like to approach things counter-intuitively,” he continues. “Instead of expelling the notion of rejection, you want to go into it, engage it and benefit.” Uh, ok, if you say so, Herbert.
It doesn’t help that he’s an elitist. And according to a schoolmate’s comment on Reddit, a “delusional and narcissistic prick”. While I don’t agree with his ideals, I do sympathise. Rejection stings, and when you have no one in your life, the world becomes a cold, isolating and restrictive place.
But most of all, when it comes to dating, people tend to take it far more personally. I remember the time I became aquainted with a bartender. It was through work. So even though he asked to add me on Facebook and suggested we “catch up” over drinks, I assumed it was about work and networking, and asked a couple of friends to tag along. I don’t have to tell you it was awkward. Not long after, he unfriended me. I just thought it was hilarious being unfriended by someone I barely knew. It was a bonus that I didn’t have to do it myself.
That aside, in my 28 years, I have been bullied and ganged up against. But I have also been spoilt, petty and overly sensitive. Then I grew up and realised how childish all that was. I learnt that the world does not revolve around me.
So to Herbert, perhaps the whole idea of rejection isn’t so bad. It makes you reflect and maybe see yourself for what you’ve been. Hopefully you’re motivated to change for the better. Sometimes, a fresh start is all it takes to get back on track.
This story has been published in the June issue