Watching the procession of photos felt intimate, like Face Timing a friend, but also creepy, like hacking into someone’s phone. Patrick has a last name even your grandmother who’s never used an app would recognize — his dad’s a movie star.
But because we’d both been accepted to Raya, we could be chatting in just a few clicks, if we both tapped the heart on each other’s profiles.calls itself “an exclusive dating and networking platform for people in creative industries.” I’ve also heard it called “Illuminati Tinder.” Members are admitted by a secretive, anonymous committee, based in part on their Instagram presence.
Minimal and slightly retro, Raya’s design insulates participants from the torrent of likes and shares that enabled their admission.
There were plenty of non-famous people, too: artists, models, record-label employees, ad execs, photographers.
Most had Instagram follower counts starting in the low thousands, or else were young and very, applicants are evaluated by an algorithm, which considers “overall Instagram influence, who recommended the applicant, and how many active Raya members follow the applicant on Instagram,” as well as a committee’s vote.
Raya’s creators did not respond to requests for comment, and neither did representatives for any of the public figures whose names are cited in this story.
The controlled hush around Raya points to a paradox of internet culture: The more everyone strives for digital fame, the more those who achieve it search for ways to escape.
The result is something like one of those unmarked nightclubs, except it’s in your phone, and peppered with vloggers and net artists in addition to models and Disney stars of yore.
Raya isn’t the first online dating service to try to harness celebrity and status to cultivate an image of exclusivity — its strategy, however, seems shrewder than most.“You see people who you would never go up to in public,” the friend who invited me said.“But then they match with you and you’re messaging.The artist I met for coffee has already noticed the crowd change since the beginning of July, when he signed up. Like, if you’re a lingerie model, are you a creative?” As soon as enough people hear about it, the argument goes, photos will leak, undesirables will show up, and hype will evaporate.The League, another private dating app, launched last year amid widespread media coverage and .1 million in seed money, and has attracted that’s elite by some standards but blandly corporate by others. Since it launched in March, it has stayed totally out of the press.