…a game in which nice single people are roped into a horrible game with others, resulting in cognitive overload, shocking manners, narcissism, algorithmic prejudice, financial loss and decisions based purely on appearances.
Online Dating feels like a horrible game and I thought of the horrible game like experiences you can have. Cards against humanity came to mind when reading a quote comparing
This is where the start of dating and the internet started for me really. I met Sarah online, but not on a dating site because they were still a little sad
We met on a site called CitizenX which was a webcam (no audio) community. Its was intimate, authentic and genuine. Its very difficult not to be when you have a webcam on you all. The community would actively reject people who chose not to use a webcam.
It was 2002, when we met in person and chemistry happened. We got married within a year.
However we got divorced after 4.5 years and blogged about it on our blogs after telling the important people in our families and close friends.
I was down but picked myself and decided that internet dating was on the rise, and I should give it a proper go. I mean the internet is changing so many things, what have I got to lose?
On top of that I moved to Manchester, England and knew almost nobody. Being single in a new city with all those opportunities and people was great.
So I became a bit of serial dater…. The word serial dater always conjures up visions of players, so I kind of prefered ethical dater. Because although I dated more than most typical people, it was a great chance to make friends and go to new places.
I did however try all these sites, most via free referrals and trials. The only ones I use now are OkCupid, Plenty of Fish and Bumble (which I recently ditched.)
However I’m still single but actually quite happy.
However being Valentine's day, its a great chance to put myself out there to all the lovely ladies who might be interested. I don’t think this has ever been done on TED stage...
The amazing Jody aka Northern Lass wrote about the first time we met and called me the human wikipedia of online dating. Very fitting as wikipedia isn’t always right but you can throw almost any question at it and get something decent back http://www.theguardian.com/uk/the-northerner/2013/jul/02/internet-dating-who-pays-on-first-dates
The lovely Claire, once throw the idea at me the idea that I was a expert by experience. Which I loved, as so many so called experts have little actual experience
My parents and friends do ask why are you still single? And some ask do I actually want to settle down?
This is how I describe dating in the 21st century in the post internet age. Or in the time of algorithms, to quote Dan Slator’s related book. The used condoms refers to the hookup culture which has developed. No criticism, just interesting you have to actively avoid it sometimes, along with the catfish and sharks.
Perfect video for those who don’t know what a catfish is… important point being the catfish do make things a little more interesting… sometimes
Talking about interesting, here’s one of the many catfishes I have crossed paths with over my time. Her profile is still on OKCupid (i did report it but like most dating sites, nothing happens), but the twitter profile where she or he ripped the photos has been suspended. Its worth pointing out she started talking to me, not the other way around. - she was a 44% Match | 54% Enemy on OKCupid, what ever that means really.
We moved from Okcupid to Facebook. Of course I didn’t add her as a friend, but instead used the other inbox option, so we could talk freely. I had to carefully show only the parts where shes not naked or saying quite explicit things. As you can see on the left, shes only interested in one thing.
Here is a real email I sent to friends before I went to meet Danielle in Salford Tesco metro car park. http://www.tesco.com/store-locator/uk/?bID=3259 Honestly it was her idea not mine. I decided unlike other times, I should actually tell people ahead of time where I’m going to be, just incase. So here is the email I sent to a few friends and Chris actually came with me to Salford Quays carpark to see who would turn up. Nobody showed which makes a difference from last time.
The quite famous story of the catfish, CTS (Claire Travers Smith - 52 first dates blog) and the Guardian who tracked down Seb in North Wales. http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/jul/07/hoaxer-who-breaks-womens-hearts
Here’s an example of why they are quite a different breed from scammers, they will string you along and even send you gifts. But in that gift of perfume is a bigger tale...
The picture of Seb, the catfish herself. He is actually a She.
Remember when I talked about swimming in the sea, well there are many other types of scams floating around waiting to sting you. I’m pretty sure Danielle was into sextortion, as kept asking for pictures of me, while sending pictures she ripped from elsewhere. I can’t tell you how many escorts have swiped right on dating apps and told me up front how much they charge a hour!
If that wasn’t disturbing enough, theres much more...
The fetisisation of the profile picture is out of control. Apps like Tinder, rely purely on the profile picture. Their algorithms also rely heavily on dwell time of people viewing the profile. More people view, dwell and swipe right the more attractive people you get - http://uk.businessinsider.com/secret-tinder-rating-system-called-elo-score-can-only-be-seen-by-company-2016-1?r=US&IR=T Users can’t be bothered to fill in profiles, so they just stick up a few pictures from their FB/instagram connected account. Interestingly while researching this, I found the most contacted woman in New York but couldn’t find the same but male… Enough said really… Further sexisim
Barry Schwartz's book the paradox of choice outlines exact the problem with online dating. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Paradox_of_Choice https://www.ted.com/talks/barry_schwartz_on_the_paradox_of_choice I ask people about the 2nd to last choice and can they tell me why they rejected them, 99% can’t even remember that choice and why.
This leads to people saying online dating is work and they just had enough for now. Or they go the other way and set their filters to such crazy level to narrow down the choices. In the paradox of choice this is… the abundance of choice leads to depression and feelings of loneliness.
For me my nitpicking is women who throw stupid shapes with their fingers. In america they are called gang signs and its frankly impossible to unsee. All I can hear is this song when viewing profile pictures with them - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXhu-LJf_3g Shudder!
The other thing from the paradox of choice is the grass is greener syndrome, which is a real syndrome. Barry calls it Missed Opportunities and Barry finds that when people are faced with having to choose one option out of many desirable choices, they will begin to consider hypothetical trade-offs. Their options are evaluated in terms of missed opportunities instead of the opportunity's potential. Schwartz maintains that one of the downsides of making trade-offs is it alters how we feel about the decisions we face; afterwards, it affects the level of satisfaction we experience from our decision.
So ultimately so much choice is making users feel like crap and putting us in a place where they will consume more. The next swipe will be better, honest!
I’m going to call it what I really think it is… Its strong words but I feel its not by mistake or freak quiencdeces
A whole industry setup to not give you what you really want. Here is some figures to bring home the levels of profits we’re talking about here.
This is the fundamental mismatch in online dating services. They want the maximum amount of money from each customer but can they afford to have 2 people leave?
The Ashley madison hacks only scratch the surface of the dodgy dealings going on across the industry. http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/aug/20/ashley-madison-hack-your-questions-answered
This is a courtcase which seemed to get pushed under the carpet. http://nypost.com/2013/11/22/model-suing-match-com-for-1-5b-over-fraudulent-fake-profiles/ http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/bogus-profiles-rampant-match-lawsuit-article-1.1526124
Panorama went head long into the murky world of online dating. However once the show was aired, there were legal complains. Well worth watching, although they focus on UK dating market things very much apply across the world. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W_OI7f3j41k
Ok Cupid’s OK Trend blog (http://blog.okcupid.com) documents trends across OKCupid. Its a great site for information and quite transparent. However they put up a blog post about why you should never pay for online dating before they got bought by IAC Match group. After that buy, the blog post disappeared off the face of the earth… but nothing leaves the web - http://www.themarysue.com/okcupid-pulls-why-you-should-never-pay-for-online-dating-match-com/
One of the core issues with paid for online dating is the loop you get into when trying it out during one of the many free communication weeken. Its a total farce and at some point someone will need to get their credit card out to pay. This is the equivalent of the drug dealers, first taste is free then once hooked you pay.
And free apps make even more money by showing you adverts and selling all that personal real time data. This is part of a bigger issue (I call data ethics) with apps using personal data and not being very transparent of what’s going on below.
Its been well recognized that if you gamifiy things, it can prolong usage. Therefore, attention and therefore data to sell onwards. Basically the longer you are using their apps, the more data you generate and more they can sell.
Sir Alan Sugar recently rejected Vana Koutsomitis date play app. Well the business model might not have been right but the money was certainly there. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/profiles/CSdWrMxgJfg4wfl9PKPTXx/vana-koutsomitis https://dateplay.com/
Ultimately people say bad things about Tinder, Grinder, Happen, etc but they just keep on swiping. Its almost an addiction? Go to a new area and open tinder because heck you have no idea who might be around? http://www.theguardian.com/media-network/media-network-blog/2014/jan/17/tinder-dating-psychology-technosexual
Ultimately there are problems with boiling down human emotion to a binary decision. What happened to maybe? Scruff gay dating app actually includes this option but the rest are all about make a binary decision now. This is a worrying trend - http://cubicgarden.com/2015/12/29/the-problem-is-simple-answers-to-difficult-questions/
Ultimately our apathy and fear just adds to their ever expanding profits. Its like a rigged game where you are damm if you do and damm if you don’t.
But something is working right? People tell me all the time how they met on this site and another… so whats going on?
There has got to be some science to this stuff, Hannah Fry in her recent book the mathematics of love - https://www.ted.com/talks/hannah_fry_the_mathematics_of_love?language=en http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Mathematics-Love-TED-Hannah/dp/1471141802 Indicates there may be a something to it all, and she follows a long line of others including Amy Webb http://lifehacker.com/there-is-an-algorithm-for-love-but-its-one-you-write-1638108629 and Mathematician Chris McKinlay http://www.wired.com/2014/01/how-to-hack-okcupid/ But its not fool proof and a lot of work… http://lifehacker.com/there-is-an-algorithm-for-love-but-its-one-you-write-1638108629
However there is a ton of scientific research saying its not possible. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/12/opinion/sunday/online-dating-sites-dont-match-hype.html http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/12/science/skepticism-as-eharmony-defends-its-matchmaking-algorithm.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
During the process of thinking about this talk, I looked into things and came up with an alternative theory of why people still match. Its about the numbers… http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/17/opinion/sunday/playing-the-numbers-in-digital-dating.html The Birthday paradox says if you put 23 people in a room, their is 50% chance a couple will have the same birthday. Aka if you bring together people a small percentage will always have common elements which may connect them and ultimately they may pair off to learn more about each other. This makes the 3 couples on the year of making love pretty shocking… http://cubicgarden.com/2013/03/15/the-year-after-we-were-meant-to-be-making-love/
I bet meetup is actually a better place to meet a partner than all the other online dating sites, but it doesn’t get the credit it deserves or make big bold claims like all the online dating world.
This is why Tesco’s basket dating will work for a small percentage. http://www.marketingmagazine.co.uk/article/1382596/tesco-matches-singles-based-shopping-basket-contents-valentines-day-push They have enough people and some commonality between the matches. Plus the basket items are a social object for people to chat around
This is exactly why Bristlr and other very niche dating sites/services/apps will do a better job than the big dating sites. It may have come from a joke or not but they have the right formula for success.
We are so hyper connected but we don’t feel like we can reach out and connect with people around us.
Stanley Milgrams 1972 paper on the familiar stranger, is ground breaking back then and apply so well to now, as population moves back into cities around the world. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Familiar_stranger We are connected but there are little clues that we are closer than ever before
We seek intimacy and you can see outbreaks in things like Share1moment, Freehugs, Flirting classes, etc… http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-34547488 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_Hugs_Campaign http://flirtology.co.uk/
What we all fear is rejection and its human to fear it. Theres a lot of information about it and ultimately its what stops us from reaching out to the strangers around us.
This is what I say when talking about the fear of rejection. Hesitation stops us and it grows in the mind and becomes a bigger deal than it should be. If you think it, do it. Don’t over think it, live in the moment.
The reason we fear it so much is we are conditioned to fit in. If more of us embraced diversity, more of us would reject conformity and the notion of fitting in. Whats wrong with talking on public transport, saying good morning as you enter a public space or asking about the bloody weather (very british but its a conversation starter)
The whole one life thing is something I know too well, if you haven’t already seen my previous TEDxManchester talk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuGkYCtu5JM - The story of me.
But through dating I have learned even more about myself.
I have some incredible experiences, good, bad, funny, tragic… Some great stories which I hope to share in a book or more likely a blog in the near future. From catfish experiences to a regular spot talking on BBC Radio Merseyside with Northern Lass - http://cubicgarden.com/tag/bbcmerseyside/ The experiences are vast and as friend Simon says, if its a great story you will tell others and won’t kill you… you should do it. Catfish included.
I can’t tell you how many great conversations I have had with some great people. I made some great friends which I am still friends with now. We need to be better about treasuring our relationships with friends as much as we treasure it with partners. If I had known about the 6 types of love, I would have made reference to Philia - http://cubicgarden.com/2016/02/21/6-words-to-describe-different-types-of-love/ I also learned the art of conversation is certainly not dead no matter what Sherry Turkle says - http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/10/reclaiming-conversation-sherry-turkle/409273/
Reflecting back on when I first met Sarah online in Citizen X. I found out about the site via a book written by Derek Powaz design for community - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Design-Community-Derek-Powazek/dp/0735710759 The book focuses on creating intimate spaces where people can flourish.
Citizen X was a place which encouraged this and its creator Halcyon. http://www.digitalintimacy.com/loungeville/cxhistory.htm
Its almost impossible to be more authentic, genuine and present on the end of a public webcam, as it was on Citizen X.
Whats missing in online dating is the human element. They need to be places where we can be open and explore our human side without fear of rejection.
With humanity in mind, I wish everybody happy valentine day… Thanks for listening...
Dating against humanity
Dating Against Humanity
…a game in which nice single people are roped into a horrible game with
others, resulting in cognitive overload, shocking manners, narcissism,
algorithmic prejudice, financial loss and decisions based purely on
you are going
Ok this is going to sound a little crazy...!
Been chatting to a woman on OKCupid - Danielle Mason
44% Match | 54% Enemy
She was flirting with me and I decided to play her bluff
about hooking up soon.. Anyway, we kept talking on FB.
And now were meeting each other for some "fun"
I did all the usual scan for scams, sex worker, etc but
she’s not showing up. As you can imagine there’s a ton of
selfies which were shared. So I'm going to go through
In the past, they pulled out at the last minute or turned out
to be somebody very different But unlike in the past, I'm
going to let friends (you guys) know in advance just in-
case things get a little weird or too freaky.
So I'm pretty sure I'm dealing with a Catfisher
...past 80 years of
scientific research about
what makes people
suggests that such sites
are unlikely to do what
they claim to do