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Dating against humanity

Dating Against Humanity
…a game in which nice single people are roped into a horrible game with
others, resulting in cogni...
I met Sarah
Intimate space
for authentic &

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From TedxManchester4: 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 appearances.

From TedxManchester4: 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 appearances.


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Dating against humanity

  1. 1. 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 appearances.
  2. 2. 2001… I met Sarah online
  3. 3. Intimate space for authentic & genuine conversations
  4. 4. 2002… Chemistry happened in London
  5. 5. After 4½ years, we split and had a divorce
  6. 6. The internet changed my life once, why not again?
  7. 7. New city, outlook, opportunities, people...
  8. 8. I became a bit of a serial dater * * Compared to the typical number of dates people go on before committing to a relationship
  9. 9. Match, Guardian Soulmates, OkCupid, Plenty of Fish, Zoosk, Tinder, Woome, How about we, Badoo, Bumble, and more...
  10. 10. I am still single...
  11. 11. 36 year old divorcee, left-leaning, feminist & self confessed geek I’m @cubicgarden if interested
  12. 12. I have been called
  13. 13. The wikipedia of online dating Northern Lass in The Guardian
  14. 14. Expert by experience Claire
  15. 15. Why are you still single?
  16. 16. Swimming in the sea with sharks, beautiful dolphins, catfish & used condoms
  17. 17. What is a Catfish?
  18. 18. Dating 101, always tell people where 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 with it... 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
  19. 19. What do they get out of it?
  20. 20. The thrill, control & manipulation
  21. 21. Hallmarks of a psychopath
  22. 22. Blackmail, mail order brides & sextortion
  23. 23. Some disturbing insights
  24. 24. Fetishisation of the profile photo
  25. 25. The paradox of choice
  26. 26. Cognitive burn-out or extreme nit-picking
  27. 27. My own nit-picking
  28. 28. Grass is greener syndrome
  29. 29. Endemic corruption
  30. 30. There is a fundamental mismatch IAC own Match, OkCupid, POF, Tinder Valued at $5.8 Billion Match had $888.3 million in revenue & $148.4 million profit in 2014 POF sold for $575 million in cash
  31. 31. A permanently paired-off dater, means lost revenue
  32. 32. How many ashley madison accounts are real? Ashley madison is only the start
  33. 33. $1.5 billion courtcase Photos used in 200+ fake match profiles
  34. 34. Legally, can not show clips from BBC Panorama tainted love
  35. 35. To pay? or not to pay?
  36. 36. Straight from drug dealing handbook?
  37. 37. Apps make money from attention & personal data
  38. 38. Gamification to prolong attention & usage
  39. 39. Swipe right culture "On to the Next One" by Jay-Z False sense of intimacy Date:Play Startup idea from Vana Koutsomitis
  40. 40. Tinder sucks, they say. But they don’t/can’t stop swiping
  41. 41. Boiling down human emotion to binary
  42. 42. Apathy and fear adds to their profits
  43. 43. Something is working?
  44. 44. Science of the matching algorithm
  45. 45. Algorithmic hokey pokey? ...past 80 years of scientific research about what makes people romantically compatible suggests that such sites are unlikely to do what they claim to do
  46. 46. Birthday paradox
  47. 47. Getting people together since 2002 - By Budaris - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0
  48. 48. Tesco’s basket dating will work for a percentage
  49. 49. Connecting niches, is the new black
  50. 50. We feel disconnected in a hyperconnected world
  51. 51. Milgram’s 1972 paper familiar strangers
  52. 52. We crave authentic intimacy in our society
  53. 53. We all fear rejection
  54. 54. Hesitation leads to doubt and then fear
  55. 55. Reject conformity, embrace diversity
  56. 56. We only have one life
  57. 57. Every date I learn more about myself
  58. 58. Incredible experiences
  59. 59. Treasure friends & conversations
  60. 60. Create intimate spaces, where chemistry can flourish
  61. 61. Made of respect, love, laughter and hugs
  62. 62. Places to be authentic, genuine & present
  63. 63. Places where we can be human again
  64. 64. With humanity in mind, enjoy valentine’s day Thank you... @cubicgarden -

Editor's Notes

  • 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
  • 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.
    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.
  • 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 -
    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.
    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 -
  • 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.
  • This is a courtcase which seemed to get pushed under the carpet.
  • 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.
  • Ok Cupid’s OK Trend blog ( 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 -
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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 -
  • 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 -
    Indicates there may be a something to it all, and she follows a long line of others including Amy Webb and Mathematician Chris McKinlay
    But its not fool proof and a lot of work…
  • However there is a ton of scientific research saying its not possible.
  • 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…
    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…
  • 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.
    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.
    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…
  • 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 - 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 -
    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 -
    I also learned the art of conversation is certainly not dead no matter what Sherry Turkle says -
  • 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 -
    The book focuses on creating intimate spaces where people can flourish.
  • Citizen X was a place which encouraged this and its creator Halcyon.
  • 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...