WittyThumbs lets you upload screenshots of messages to their site and crowdsource interpretation of them. Other WittyThumbs users can share their thoughts on what the messages you get actually mean, or how you could change your own messages to be more appealing to the recipient.
WittyThumbs is the first website released from Hermes, a startup that aims to provide education and expert advice for those looking to improve their dating skills.
The toneless text of social media can lead to perilous, or at least anxiety-inducing, miscommunication. Or doubt, even when things are actually understood. WittyThumbs offers the potential to relieve some of that anxiety. Hermes' main site has advice articles with introductions like "every text you send risks causing them to lose interest" so it may perpetuate its own perceived necessity for users. (Which comes, possibly, from anxiety; most of us have conversations every day, so the cultural meaning of treating conversations with people we might date so differently is interesting, to say the least).
The site's foundation in second-guessing begs the question of whether too much formulaic advice or strategic effort could distract from truly getting to know a person and communicating authentically.
The description of Hermes' purpose, at first glance, rings a few alarm bells for its similar outward goals to "PUA" (pick-up artist) culture, which has a sordid track record of misogyny, shallowness, and perpetuation of rape culture. One woman Robin Tran described her personal experience of the PUA community and the damage it can cause to those who buy into it as well as to the people targeted. In 2016, a self-proclaimed pick-up artist and "executive dating coach" had his visa revoked by the Australian government before a scheduled tour, over concerns about inciting violence against women.
And Hermes does have some similar phrasing, like WittyThumbs' headline "dating is a game, like soccer." And apart from an "All Genders" category, their gender categories ("M>F," "M>M," and so on) are binary only.
However, Hermes at the very least has a different aesthetic and seems to target a more normal audience. Some people may benefit significantly from WittyThumbs advice, particularly if they are inexperienced daters, have social anxiety, or have other social disabilities. The quality of the advice will also likely depend on the user base that develops for WittyThumbs over time.
With the difficulties and analysis-based nature of online dating as it already exists, WittyThumbs fills a logical role in attempts at online connection.