There are plenty of ways to figure out if your work crush is mutual. Maybe you spend time together outside the office to see if there’s something real there, or if it’s just the proximity and deadline pressure colliding to make you smile like an idiot when you pass each other in the hallway. Maybe you tell your work bestie about it, and see how long it takes the rumor mill to deliver that news back to the person in question. Or maybe you go the more aggressive route and pray you don’t end up with a sexual harassment suit. (I’m not condoning this last one.)
But those methods are so 1995, so analog, so Fox News.
So here’s another option: You could download this Slack bot and creep out your entire office — as I did to the Washington Post newsroom on Monday afternoon. Theoretically the bot works like Tinder, revealing your feelings to your work crush only if they’re mutual. But that requires a lot of trust … not of your crush, necessarily, but of the confidentiality of a workplace messaging tool. Not to mention the setting is a little unsavory for Slack, which, in the company’s tagline, is “where work* happens.” Now I know why the asterisk is there.
The bot was developed by Feeld, a dating app that was formed to facilitate threesomes. (And no, HR, that’s not what I was after! Just checking out this new thing on my beat.) When I clicked on Feeld’s invitation to add its bot to my Slack team, this message below appeared on my Slack screen — and starting popping up on colleagues’ screens as well. It took our Slack admin team about five minutes to disable it. In that time, it didn’t get to everyone who was signed on to the messaging system, but it did reach a lot of people.
My colleagues were confused (Are we getting hacked?); creeped out (WHAT THE HELL?!? So inappropriate); and a little curious (but i want to know if there are any matches). Though we have plenty of work crushes at The Post that have blossomed into marriages, no new success stories outed themselves to me on Monday.
This all unfolded as I was on the phone with Feeld’s founder, Dimo Trifonov. Trifonov admits that his bot probably won’t fit the culture of large corporations like The Washington Post. “You just made a small revolution inside the company,” he said when I told him about the chaos that his bot was wreaking on the newsroom. Rather, he sees it working better in start-ups or “zero-hierarchy companies,” where presumably there are less likely to be sexual harassment complaints. Trifonov doesn’t see any legal danger in his bot — “The point is for people to be open. If feelings happen, we cannot control them,” he said, adding that having a crush on someone isn’t illegal.
Later Monday afternoon, Feeld responded over Twitter:
It’s true — feelings are not illegal, and they are so human. But a bot isn’t human. So why trust one with your heart’s sensitive information?