Not since Warren Beatty played John Reed in “Reds” has one person done as much to raise the profile of the socialist cause asBernie Sandershas. A recentpollshows that nearly half of millennials and Gen Z-ers would prefer to live in a socialist country. A Tindersurveyfound that seventy-one per cent of online daters consider political differences to be a deal breaker. So what’s a young leftist to do?
Mindy Isser, a twenty-nine-year-old labor organizer, and Marissa Brostoff, a thirty-four-year-old editor atJewish Currents, had an idea. In January, they createdRed Yenta, a Twitter account dedicated to matching socialists around the country for dates. “Hi comrades!” reads the account’s first tweet. “Here’s the deal: love is hard to find, and it’s extra hard when you’re in a weird socialist tendency that no one’s ever heard of.” Now lovelorn leftists can create Twitter accounts and direct-message descriptions of themselves (but not photos) to the Red Yenta account. Then they keep their accounts open for direct messages from other users. Red Yenta has about twenty-five hundred followers.
Before Red Yenta, Brostoff had stumbled on a Facebook page called “OKComrade,” an OkCupid knockoff. “But it was all bots and people who seemed awful,” so Brostoff turned to Tinder. “I said in my bio that I was an ‘aspiring communist mystic,’ ” Brostoff said. “I figured that was either enticing or off-putting enough that I could weed out people.” Then Brostoff met Isser, who had been fixing up friends informally, using a spreadsheet, and the two teamed up to create a dating paradise for lefties.
Brostoff said, “I’ve been struck by the fact that Red Yenta has been really queer, trans, and gender-nonconforming.” Almost all users include their pronouns and their ideologies in their bios. A user named Elena (Twitter handle: @jdcje_) says that she’s looking for “hot communists of any gender, anarchists acceptable. No astrology.” Another, named William (@antonioglamsci), is “marxist-leninish.” Dan (@redyentacompat1) is searching for “today’s version of a handsome Bolshevik revolutionary.”
“If I were making a Red Yenta profile, mine would definitely specify ‘no anarchists,’ ” Isser said. “If I were on Tinder, I would probably do ‘no cops’ or something.” But, aside from the ideologies and the lack of photos, Red Yenta is a lot like other dating apps. Users who make plans to meet often get ghosted. Dan, the user looking for a Bolshevik, messaged five possible dates. All five responded. Within a week, all five had stopped responding.
William has had better luck. There was one date, in February, with someone who “talked a lot about Rosa Luxemburg,” William said. Sparks didn’t fly, so William messaged another user, whose bio said she was looking for “someone who could answer the questions of the twentieth century.” William wrote her and admitted to not having those answers.
“That’s a shame!” she responded. “Do you have any substantive questions?”
“I still feel like I don’t really get why revolution only took place in the periphery and semi-periphery,” William replied. A few days later, they met for dinner. “At first, we just talked a bunch about diners,” William said. “And then we started talking about obscure French theorists.” They met again, at the Armory Show in Hell’s Kitchen, for a date that turned out to be “super non-socialist, because there are three-hundred-thousand-dollar price tags on whatever painting. But we got to talk about the labor theory of value.” William seemed optimistic about the relationship.
Is there a risk that Red Yenta can feel like an echo chamber? “Some centrists think that the left is this monolithic bloc,” Brostoff said. “But people on the left are constantly fighting one another. There are many, many different shades of orientations. To be on the left in America in 2019 is just a baseline for ‘Do you want there to continue to be a world that people can live in?’ ” ♦
An earlier version of this piece misstated the location of the Armory Show.