Matchmake, Matchmaker…? Yenta Has Gone Cyber

Paula LaBrot

Back in the day, you could meet someone to date through friends, work, activities, hobbies, religious affiliations, clubs, parties, concerts, marches, bars or other serendipitous meeting places. One, often excruciating, way to meet someone was the Blind Date! Someone you didn’t know showed up, usually arranged by mutual friends or family. You sat in the car as they walked around the back, either pleasantly excited or wishing you could jump out and run back into your house, wondering why someone could possibly think this was a good match for you. No need for that in the present high-tech world of dating. Yenta has gone cyber.

On, Megan Gambino reported that during the mid-1960s on college campuses a questionnaire could be slipped under your dorm room door. You would be asked 100 questions about yourself and what you were looking for in a mate. For a $3-$4 subscription fee your questionnaire was fed into a room-sized computer, which would match you with “six ideal matches.” Gambino points out the dating pools were small, quite local. In 1995, launched. That is just about the time Americans started to discover the internet. As the number of people online exponentially grew, the cyber dating pool grew right along with it. Today, there are huge numbers of people to match with.

Getting Started–Making a Profile
Profile information includes your basic information. Who do you want to meet? Age range? Physical description? Interests? Activities? Politics? Sports? Books? Movies? Religious beliefs? Ideal date? Commitment level? Children…do you have or want? Pets? Occupation? Income? Tons of questions. Add a photo. Then you do the questions again, except about the person you want to meet. There is also behavioral mining of your browsing history on a dating site of the people you explore and the time you spend on their profiles algorithmically adds information to your profile. Hence, the saying: “The dating platform knows you better than you know yourself.” By the way, don’t you think all that amazing information about you is a valuable commodity for a big data sale? You bet it is.

The Date!
Members of online dating services are algorithmically sorted and connected. First, they message each other. Next, the e-mail exchanges (Tip: set up an account separate from your personal e-mail). Writing is a good way to get to know someone and whether members are really who they say they are (Tip:often, not the case). Written communication is followed by phone contact (Tip: don’t use your phone number…use Skype or temporary phone numbers). Newer apps like Tinder or Grinder give way less information. You make positive or negative swipes on profile pictures for quicker, shallower hookups. It is advisable to meet in a neutral public setting and best to schedule for coffee, because that’s short and you can get out fast if you aren’t interested. Let someone know with whom, where and when the meeting is taking place. Park your car away from the meeting place, and make sure you are not followed to the car, where you can be tracked through your auto license. Try Uber or Lyft.

The results of online matchmaking can be surprisingly good. While researching this article, I was stunned to learn how many of my friends had met their spouses online. Research from many studies show that couples who met on dating sites and married are less likely to be divorced. And the efficiency is impressive. Anna Wilkenson is quoted in an article by Julia Smith, “I filled out forms about my personal goals, which included having a family, something I’d been too frightened to mention for fear of scaring the men off. The men I was introduced to were told what I wanted and shared those dreams. All the game-playing was skipped. From the start, we were on the same page, and then it was only a matter of finding someone I also found physically attractive. That was Mark, the third man I met.”

The Downside

Stranger danger. You really don’t know whom you are dealing with. Men and women have been scammed, robbed, even murdered, lured by online matches to their deaths. Stalking is a problem. Sociopaths are great actors and very patient. Use a paid site. Check your matches on Google and Facebook. Do background checks. Be careful, super careful!

The More Things Change…….

Dating sites are simply high-tech matchmakers. The newest trend for online dating sites is to organize offline, face-to-face group meet-ups for their customers. These can be parties, hikes, classes or games. I like this plan. Data-driven dating still needs face-to-face real-world context, because a spark of attraction has to be there for anything to happen past hello.

It’s Yenta 2.0, cyber-sorting and connecting people who, theoretically should match and then letting nature take its course.

Such is l’amour in the digital age!

Vamos a ver!


Paula LaBrot

Paula LaBrot is a 30-year resident of Topanga, a futurist with a special interest in the uncharted waters of cyberspace.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.