cover image Nothing Personal: My Secret Life in the Dating App Inferno

Nothing Personal: My Secret Life in the Dating App Inferno

Nancy Jo Sales. Hachette, $28 (384p) ISBN 978-0-3164-9274-4

Sales (American Girls) gets plenty personal in this candid and provocative memoir investigating Big Tech’s disruptions of dating. She argues that dating apps—rife with harassment, powered by algorithms that reinforce racial bias, and designed to be addictive by data-mining companies—are undermining real connection. Yet, approaching age 50 and reeling from recent heartbreak, she’s hardly immune to these “problematic little cattle prods of desire” and embarks on a series of often terrible hookups with 20-something men, including one guy who takes a call from his mom mid-coitus and another who insists that “all girls like being choked.” She eventually finds hot, intimate sex with Abel, but ghosting is a frequent feature of their on-and-off “situationship,” and an act of casual objectification becomes the final straw. Supporting her own experiences with statistics and quotes from researchers, tech execs, and fellow daters, Sales touches on everything from “incels” (members of online “involuntary celibate” communities) to sex robots; the linkages can occasionally strain, as in an analogy between a narrowing of dating experiences and the loss of biodiversity. But Sales’s funny, fresh approach will resonate with many single readers, as well as anyone concerned about the ways technology enables capitalism to invade personal lives. Agent: Jen Marshall, Aevitas Creative (May)