Scratching at the online dating bubble

Freakonomics recently put up a podcast about online dating. I love the it the show and you know your in for a good show when someone says…

…if only everybody approached it like an economist would…

Online dating through the eyes of an economist is a very intriguing world indeed. But unfortunately not everyone does. In actual fact theres a well known phenomenon which happens when faced with love.

…being attracted to a person is a lot like being on drugs. The release of chemicals into our brain and body creates an altered mental state in which we both perceive and behave differently than we normally would..

But back to the Freakonomics podcast. The bulk of the show was dedicated to AaronCarterFan, who I have written about before.

Theres some nice juicy parts in the show including,

OYER: Okay, so as I look at what you’ve got here, well, before we even look at it we have to stop and think about the first thing an economist is going to do is think about supply and demand. So I don’t know if you realize this, but you’re in a great position. New York City is demographically more female than male. I’m not entirely sure why that’s true. Out here in San Francisco it’s the opposite. We have an oversupply of men relative to women, at least compared to other cities. New York City and Washington D.C. tend to swing much more towards more available women. So you’re in a good position from a competitive point of view. You’re providing a good, single, straight male, which is in relatively high demand. Now the other thing to keep in mind here is time is very much on your side. So you’re in a good position for two other reasons, and that is the male/female differential I just mentioned is going to swing much more in your favor over the next 10 years. So you’re under no pressure to hook up for a long-term relationship right now. So that’s one thing that’s good. The other thing is just more generally, aside from your gender, the fact that you’re 28 years old from an economist point of view means that you should be very picky. So you should be picky, you should be looking for a really good match. And the reason for that is suppose you do find just the right person, and get married and live happily ever after, well you’re in no rush to do that because you have, let’s just say 50 more years in which to enjoy the relationship you find if it’s a successful one. So when I was on the online dating market recently, you know, I’m much older than you are, and from a rational economic perspective, I should be less picky than you. I should be searching a little less carefully. I should be settling, settling is an important idea, it’s a very important idea to economists because of what we call search theory suggests that at some point you should realize that  having what you have is better than expending more resources to try to do better. And that’s more true when you’re my age, I’m 50 now, than when you’re your age, which is 28.

And the guys are right… no rush, be a picky, nothing worst that rushing into something which isn’t going anywhere.

Justin WOLFERS: The Internet has turned matching upside down. It used to be that you would find compatibility first and then learn more about someone else’s attributes. And now you see all the attributes and then you learn about compatibility later.

This is something which certainly makes things very different. I always say to people who say, its easy. Go find someone and your done. Well here’s the big difference… Attributes before Chemistry. We’re still grappling with this major shift, and to be honest I hadn’t really thought about it in these terms before. This is the internet’s effect on the way we meet. We truly do live in the age of algorithms, like it or not!

Even the likes of Speed dating, Singles party’s, etc are holding to a somewhat dying tradition?

What you want to remember in your profile is that you want to be very upfront and forthcoming in anything that is what an economist would call a coordination game. It’s where our interests are aligned and as long as we have the right information we’re going to make the right decision. So in my case I was very upfront and forthcoming in my profile about the fact that I had a large and badly behaved golden retriever, and the fact that I have two teenaged children. Because if somebody was against those things, then those were deal breakers. And in your case, you want to be honest about the fact that you’re a public radio producer because on the one hand that’s very attractive to some people, but it also indicates that you’re not going to be rich, at least in the short term. You don’t want anybody who wants you just for your money, either because you don’t like those types of people or because even if you do you’re not going to get them once they have the information anyway.

This for me is an argument why you need to be honest on your profile. Its not about attracting everyone but the right people for you. Define your dealbreakers too. Although I joke I wouldn’t date someone who shopped in Aldi, its not really a deal breaker. I would have to wonder about their taste buds when it comes to fruit and veg, but its no deal breaker. A deal breaker is someone who drinks to get drunk all the time, dabbles with hard drugs, strong right wing views, can’t think deeper than what the soaps are showing.

Of course deal breakers can change, for example a while ago a deal breaker was having a child. Not because I have anything against kids, but I just wasn’t ready for that. And I’d rather be upfront about that. Hence on my profile it says…

I have little time for the mainstream garbage of pop music/fashion/celeb driven nonsense.

I removed the sorry if that winds you up part. As I’m not sorry, it was never going to be…

The podcast or the transcript is worth a listen/read, theres some great down to earth advice for online daters and all from people who look at the hidden side of everything. Of course I’m very tempted to write them a email asking them to look at other parts of the online dating world including the crack of the dating, the 3day trial.

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.

1 thought on “Scratching at the online dating bubble”

Comments are closed.