Ben Affleck has become an intriguing figure throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with everything from his blinding back tattoo to his blinding love for Dunkin' Donuts keeping us endlessly fixated on his every move. Over the past year, Affleck has gone viral for a few relatable pandemic problems: trashing a life-size cutout of his ex; struggling to carry a massive tray of coffee and donuts; and, most recently, giving all of us a collective heart attack by hanging out with his ex, Jennifer Lopez. Now, Affleck is trending on TikTok yet again after a former Raya match shared a short (but very memeable) video she says she received from him.
"Thinking of the time I matched with Ben Affleck on raya and thought it was fake so I unmatched him and he sent me a video on Instagram," wrote Nivine Jay, an L.A.-based actress, writer, and influencer with over 32,000 followers on the app.
The TikTok cuts to Affleck, speaking into a front-facing camera. "Nivine, why did you unmatch me?" He leans in slightly and adds, "It's me." And it really is, in fact, Ben Affleck.
Unlike other dating apps, Raya is known for its extensive membership application process and high-profile users: Only people referred by existing members can even apply to join Raya, and after sending in an application, a committee votes on whether a prospective user should be granted membership. According to Us Weekly, stars like John Mayer, Channing Tatum, and Niall Horan have been spotted on the app. Some celebrities use other apps — This Is Us star Chrissy Metz said she met her boyfriend on Bumble in 2020 — but their profiles are often flagged as fake. Sharon Stone and Sam Smith both said they were blocked from Bumble and Hinge, respectively, after their accounts were reported for impersonation. So, sure, Raya is most likely the place many celebs feel the safest (or perhaps the most comfortable, surrounded by other hand-picked app users).
In a matter of 24 hours, Jay's video amassed over 5 million views on TikTok and went viral on Twitter and Instagram soon after. But as more and more people shared the TikTok, some started wondering whether it's a little… well, mean. Although Jay says she's making fun of herself, people are really making fun of Affleck. And privacy is a core component of Raya: Mocking or even exposing a match seems to break a certain level of trust. "Why hurt his privacy like that? That is so disrespectful," reads one of the top comments on Jay's TikTok.
But others thought Affleck was in the wrong, too. Some pointed out that it crosses a boundary to find and message someone on another platform after they reject you on a dating app. Jay clarified that she wasn't trying to laugh at Affleck, and she also didn't find his behaviour creepy. "I'm seeing a lot of comments calling him a creep and l don't think that's fair. l wasn't making fun of him in the video," she told E! News. "I was making fun of myself for thinking he was a catfish and it was just supposed to be funny."
Ultimately, despite the price tag and higher stakes, Raya — and its celebrity members — should both behave and be treated like any other dating app user. It's okay to send a funny screenshot around to your friends, maybe, or expose someone who sent a truly vile comment. But there's a thin line between enjoying the humour omnipresent on dating apps and outing a celebrity match for the sake of your own TikTok views. In the end, wasn't Ben Affleck (probably? hopefully?) just trying to find his match?