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Love in the Internet age

Publication Date : 19-04-2014


 I decided to experiment with crowdsourcing, and gave friends the choice between three potential topics for this column, asking them to cast their vote on Facebook.

About 60 comments later, a story about my experiences in the world of online dating trumped other, more “serious” topics about startups and entrepreneurship.

One friend pointed out that mobile dating apps are all the rage, with many such startups within the Asean region launching or getting funding in the past year or so and that my tale could be an excellent use-case.

Let’s set the scene with me telling you that I’m perfectly fine with talking to complete strangers online — I’ve in fact made more than a handful of good friends in this fashion.

I grew up with Internet Relay Chat and the classic “a/s/l?” (age/sex/location) opening that defined life online before the age of Facebook and Google began, ushering in not only real names but also pictures or a list of hobbies to go on as clues to who the person on the other end of the chat is.

But back to online dating websites and mobile apps. I dare say I’ve tried a decent chunk of what’s out there in the market.

From OKCupid to Badoo, Skout and Tinder, I’ve downloaded, signed up, tested and deleted them all.

Why? Typically, out of boredom. After all, my workaholic lifestyle doesn’t leave much time or energy for getting dolled up and going on the proverbial prowl.

For a time-strapped singleton like me, it’s just low-hanging fruit. Let’s be honest, most of us are too busy to really put in the investment required for the dating game.

The recent proliferation of dating apps is further proof that not only is there a demand for matching up busy lonely hearts — there’s also money to be made.

Many times though, I just get cajoled into it, which was what happened with OKCupid, by far my most entertaining and appalling experience to date.

“You should sign up! They use this personality matching algorithm for matches and it’s quite interesting to see what pops up,” said my male best friend.

I signed up, logged in, filled out my profile with what I thought were witty descriptions meant to demonstrate my personality, and uploaded a relatively attractive photo.

Key to the entire exercise was filling out over 250 questions OKCupid threw at me, answering all sorts of things.

In the online dating world, women rule. As a female, you really don’t have to do much and messages will come flooding in from all manner of men.

I don’t search profiles of men and message the ones that catch my fancy, which I probably should have done. I just found it more fascinating from a sociological perspective to see what kind of messages I got, from what kind of men.

It must be acknowledged that I could be described as “picky” (I prefer to call it “having standards”). And forgive me if I choose to automatically eliminate candidates based on the quality of their message, but I write for a living. Reading attempts that go along the lines of “U so pretty, can we fren plz” just doesn’t cut it for me.

The most epic message I got was from one biker-type looking chap whose profile picture showed his “softer” side, cuddling a huskie while lying on the floor.

He opened by telling me that I reminded him of his high school teacher and then proceeded to follow up with a message telling me I should respond because “teachers are not supposed to be quiet in class.”

One thing I realised about OKCupid, there is no point in filling out all those questions. The males don’t bother using it as a reference point, relying instead on whether or not you “look pretty”.

Perhaps that’s the insight I can share — you could design the most beautiful app in the world, powered by a complex and accurate algorithm and you’d still be at the mercy of idiots who mess things up by being, well, shallow jerks.

I’ve also tried mobile dating apps, with Tinder being the most recent one.

I’ve also been scolded multiple times by friends who’ve witnessed me scroll through Tinder’s catalogue of mug shots. “Don’t just click X! A couple of them look good, just say yes! You never know!” they’d scream at me as I shrugged, swiped left and moved on.

It just didn’t work for me. Mainly because geo-location based plays like that require one to be in the mood to meet someone in real life in a much shorter timespan. Call me a traditionalist, but I quite like having a couple of decent conversations first before that happens. It’s my way of weeding out the crazies.

Is there a conclusion to this tale? Alas, I have no saucy stories to share, nor sordid tales of clandestine encounters. Stuff that friends on Facebook were surely hoping for when they voted for this topic.

My OKCupid account has since been deactivated, and Tinder deleted. As for what my next move is, your guess is as good as mine.

But I haven’t given up on the digital realm just yet as a platform for meeting new people and potential mates.

I did after all meet one boyfriend while playing a massively multi-player online role-playing game or MMORPG.

Yeah I know it doesn’t get any geekier than that.


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