Love in the Time of Corona: Part II

Hinge Podcast Co-Host Jonah Feingold on Pandemic Dating and His New Film “Dating And New York”

September 19, 2020

Photo: Jonah Feingold

Although Hinge quashed my little social experiment just as it was getting juicy, I wasn’t done learning about how New Yorkers are finding love in the time of corona. After scouring Hinge’s LinkedIn for the perfect “expert” on my novel topic, I came across the fabulous co-host of Hinge’s podcast Dating SucksJonah Feingold. Thankfully, because I have very little humility when it comes to virtual rejection, I had no issue with cold-DM’ing someone who is much cooler than me (hi, Aminé). I mean, I simply had to — Jonah is currently producing a new rom-com that stars actual (lowkey) famous comedians, and is clearly well-versed in all things “dating” and “New York”. Ha! This is a pun (because his film is called Dating and New York)!

Jonah and I chatted about what it’s personally like to date during the pandemic, and how it feels to produce content about romance as we knew it some six months ago. Spoiler alert: Virtual dating still kinda sucks just as much as in-person dating, but technology also has a knack for bringing us closer together just when we need it the most.

Jonah — In general, what has your experience been with dating during the pandemic?

It’s been unique in that we launched a dating podcast during the pandemic. I sort of feel more as a spectator and analyst of dating, rather than a participant of it. I enjoyed FaceTime dates early on, but realized it was quite a bit of a mental mind fuck and emotionally exhausting to have to connect with your computer screen. That being said, I think it’s a great way for people over long distances to get to know each other early on in a “dating-ship”, before the actual meeting. 

What were the first few months of imposed isolation/quarantine like for you in terms of mental health and maintaining social connection?

I was one of those people who was already used to working from home, but wasn’t used to everyone else (friends, family, earth) working from home. Like my dog, Birdie. The quickest thing I had to accept was that having an off-day, or five, was okay. I got Zoom fatigue very quickly and even gave up virtual dating. The most consistent laughs still come from my text thread with best friends.  

What have the biggest pros and cons been to this virtual method of dating? 

At first I was excited by Zoom dating life, but talking into a screen was not a love language I was ready for. That said, I see all the pros and think they outweigh the cons. On a video chat, you can see each other, hear each other. It’s a great way to get the basics out of the way, but lacks the true “X factor” of chemistry that meeting someone in real life is able to offer. Not that you should be going on in-person dates — unless it’s safe of course. We learned on the podcast that, scientifically, in order to fall in love with someone (at least in the way modern science explains love), you need to actually meet them in real life. It’s all about the “cuddle chemical”, but I’ve heard plenty of stories of two people falling in love over the interwebs and then moving in together. So, who knows — love is probably explained as that emotion in between science and magic. 

Now that we’re pretty damn entrenched in the COVID-era style of social interaction, do you think that you or other people you have encountered are presenting themselves more authentically online?

I like that we have all become more comfortable being real and authentic — digitally. You can see it in the way we text each other or post things without overthinking it. I bet this is simply because we’ve lost so many physical ways to express ourselves. Even something as simple as going to a coffee shop and locking eyes with someone is now replaced with a DM. This is an exaggeration, or is it? The only thing that’s changed on my profile is a picture of me and my dog, to a picture of me and my dog wearing a mask. To ride a TikTok trend, when it comes to why I don’t like Zoom Dating — it’s the glitching for me. It’s the having to talk one at a time, the bad wifi between one of us, and it’s the not being able to connect on a metaphysical level that can make or break a relationship — for me.

Tell me a little more about your personal projects! How did you and Illana Dunn develop the idea for Dating Sucks, and what was it like to record the podcast during this time?

Ilana and I famously matched on Hinge. The funnier detail was that I had DM’d her asking for coffee months prior, and even ended up CC’d on an email [with her because] I was trying to make a video for Hinge. Finally, we actually matched. After a few dates and a very kind text [saying] that we should turn our relationship into a friendship, the idea of a podcast was born. We actually recorded two episodes in a studio the week before the world turned upside down. I’m amazed we were able to pull off recording a charting podcast, from scratch, in quarantine. Even though we are backed by Hinge, our team is three people — Ilana, myself, and our producer Tara. Ilana is wearing a thousand hats at once, which blows me away and I secretly think she will run Viacom in a few years. The biggest challenge was being able to maintain the same in-person casual flair you get when having a debate versus having it over Zoom (we are trained to talk one person at a time with a minor delay). And yes, I accidentally fried my computer and we lost three episodes. The important thing I want to highlight is that Ilana and I both try to make it very clear we are NOT experts, we are just curious people who enjoy podcast production and like the scientific process — which is why the premise of the show was to bring on experts to help inform us and the audience. 

Have you learned anything new about yourself and/or others since speaking with experts on dating and love? 

Yes! It has been a really informative process. I’ve learned to be more empathetic, and that we are all going through (for the most part) the same ups and downs of trying to find love. [I’ve learned] that we all just want clarity and clear communication, but sometimes don’t know how to deliver that. I learned that 90% of our dating profiles are the same no matter what gender you identify as. We all think that “liking The Office isn’t a personality trait”, although it is — I mean, the Dinner Party episode is fucking perfect comedy and gets better every viewing. 

Now, let’s talk about your upcoming film, Dating and New York. Tell me more about the inspiration behind it and what we can expect to see from this exciting cast of talented comedians and actors!

Thank you for asking and noticing the cast. The film is a fun mash-up of New York rom-coms from yesteryear, mixed with being written in a way that would allow us to make a super indie budgeted film. It’s my first feature, and the goal was to be able to make it — production-wise — on a tight budget and shooting schedule [of] 14 days. The story itself centers around two people caught in the game of dating in New York, and it’s told with a bit of a fairytale flair (hopefully, to make a point, as I myself subscribe to the idea of living in fantasyland over reality). This is likely problematic, [but] I digress. Cast and crew wise, I sincerely think we have the most talented creatives of any indie film made in the past few years. The kind of cast and crew that, when you look at their IMDBd’s in ten years, will all have branched out to their own little empires. As of today, I’m […] reviewing our opening title sequence — which was hand-painted by an incredible artist known as “RamblingSketcher” on IG. I’m excited to share the film with the world, and hopefully we [will] find a distributor to help make that happen!

What has it been like to work on a movie centered around dating as we knew it pre-COVID, and have your experiences in pandemic-era dating changed the way you have approached making the film? 

We joke that the film is now a period piece, since it was shot fully pre-COVID and then edited and posted in a little bit of both worlds. I’m proud that we didn’t let COVID stop us, as we edited, sound designed, composed an original score, and color corrected the film all in COVID times. We even shot a little pick-up scene. A lot of studio movies have articles and press about how they pull this off, but they have millions of dollars — in our case — we have, well, not millions, and are all wearing about ten different hats. [I am] forever lucky and grateful [that] we have been able to get this far with the film, given the climate of production. From a story standpoint, it is hilarious to me how many beats in the film will feel like a different era, yet, because our film makes extensive use of screen reality, will also feel very fresh. We still all debate texting our ex “I miss you”, so you’ll see…

Catch up with Jonah on Instagram @jonahfeingold and give his podcast, Dating Sucks (@datingsuckspodcast), a listen! Stay up to date with his film, Dating and New York, here.

Leave a Reply