by Ed Button
There’s a new social media messaging app called Fling, which has been out since June. It’s been advertised on Twitter and while there hasn’t been much more in the way of publicity, it seems to be pretty popular: a month into its release, it reportedly had 375,000 downloads and 150 million “flings” sent out.
The idea behind Fling is that it’s extremely similar (including a possibly copyright-infringing camera screen) to another major photo-sharing app, Snapchat: you set up a free account with your first name and email address, and then you take a photo or video of yourself, or a pet, or whatever your heart desires, add text (or just use text), and send it.
The catch with Fling is that you don’t get to choose who it goes to: it’s randomly sent “message in a bottle”-style to other people across the globe who have the app, and up to 50 people get your message. Now, you can go into the settings and change the number of the recipients anywhere between five and fifty, but, again, who receives it is out of your hands. If the recipient likes the photo or wants to reply, they can do so.
Now, you might read this and immediately think that a tidal wave of unwanted penis photos fill your inbox (as you should), but that’s not the case – the app has a “report” feature that can get you account banned for sending lewd photos.
Direct messages, however, are fair game, but the only way for someone to direct message you is if they receive your photo and reply to it, or vice versa. Also, photos don’t have an “expiration date” like they do on SnapChat, and can hang out in the recipient’s inbox for a long, long time.
It’s an interesting app, and I’ve had some good experiences with it. In the week or so I’ve had the app, I’ve received roughly 250 “flings” from places like the UK, Norway, France, Germany and Belgium. Some of them have been entertaining, like the guy who had his pug dancing to some South American hip-hop. I also talked about the game Destiny with two guys from London and Canada. I watched Bane from The Dark Knight Rises play beer pong.
Also, no penis photos.
The majority of the messages, however, come from the good old USA, and many of those posts are young guys showing off their six-pack abs and throwing sultry looks at the camera, asking for women to “chat” with.
The few pictures I’ve received from females are usually photos where they make funny faces or take pictures of something around them.
About five of the 250 I’ve received were actually females showing their faces or bodies, and of those five, only one was actively looking to “chat” with a guy.
The app is essentially a microcosm of the internet-at-large: guys being massive tools, and women keeping largely to themselves, as they probably don’t want the aforementioned tidal wave of photos constantly hitting their phone.
Something I did notice with the app, though, were some of the text messages I received over the course of my week of usage:
“This app sux. It’s all dudes!”
“Ugh Im so bored someone talk to me pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeee”
“It’s been two days and I haven’t talked to a girl that’s it I’m done”
A good 50 percent of the messages I’ve received are something to this extent.
For me, it’s telling that people would be willing to give up on such an interesting concept after two days. However, in this profusely selfish, ADD-riddled world we live in, I can’t say I’m surprised. I also know I’m not the target audience for this app, being the ripe old age of 27.
Now, I’m not going to sit here and lament the seeming dissolution of conversation and meaningful interaction in the youth of today or anything like that. You probably already know that’s going on.
The question after using it for this past week becomes whether or not Fling can keep up interest after the novelty of random photo recipients and chatting with strangers in foreign lands wears off. I’ll still have fun with it for a while, but I can’t see it lasting on my phone another week.
However, if your target audience is threatening to leave after 48 hours, your newfangled app might just be in trouble.
Ed Button is an award-winning broadcaster based out of West Plains, MO. You can find him on Twitter at @edb87.