“It’s been over a week,” one Australian man bemoaned. “Had my watch since day one but don’t know anyone else with one.”
Since starting up three weeks ago, even before the watch came out, lonelyheartbeats has attracted an international, if not particularly sizable, crowd. The group’s membership spiked to more than 160 Wednesday, following stories in Wired and the Verge. Now its front page reads like a list of half-hearted personals: “24 m STL bi,” “Any Capitals fans???”, “30 gay guy wants some heartbeats.”
The funny thing is, while it’s so tempting to see this as another example of digital dis/mis-connection, that doesn’t actually seem to be what’s happening here. I mean, sure: Given any new technology or platform, someone will try to make it romantic and/or sexual. (See, in related news, Rule 34.)
But if you read through the testimonials of the assorted “watch loners” in the forum, it’s pretty obvious that most are loners not because they don’t have friends — but because their friends don’t have Apple Watches. After all, the devices have been available for less than a month. And while sales have been strong so far, there’s evidence that the buyers are mostly hardcore Apple enthusiasts; the rest of America, on the other hand (wrist?), has been pretty meh.
That leaves the early adopters all by themselves with their shiny gadgets, desperate to see if the latest thing even works. In the Facebook group Apple Watch Users, there are entire tutorials on how to send your heartbeat to yourself.
“Don’t worry!!” One watch enthusiast says. “Add your own contact in your Friends list and send and receive heartbeats and sketches without a friend.” (Emphasis mine, but: lol.)
So perhaps the lonely hearts of Apple Watch don’t quite fit that whole isolation/connection Internet narrative. But as a metaphor for the heights of consumer tech lunacy, it doesn’t get much better than this: People sprinting out to drop hundreds of dollars on a communications device they can’t communicate with.