Communication technology makes everything old new again. Sure, personal ads date from the mid-1800s and matchmakers have been working for centuries, but none of those folks had the crushing quantity of potential-mate data that we do – nor the increasingly advanced algorithms to crunch that data.
All the work we do to create and display romance has been ported into the Information Age. In addition to rings bearing claddaghs or diamonds, we’ve got Facebook statuses to announce our relationships – and research suggests that those digital status updates correlate with real intimacy satisfaction. The ways we present our best selves to those we’re interested in are changing – aided by Photoshop and the ability to edit our thoughts before sending them — and we’re learning to decode the Internet equivalent of body language. Organizations like the Pew Research Center have been tracking these behaviors for years. But what does the future hold?
In our recent video episode Can a Computer Find Your True Love?, Jonathan explored how computers of the near future may know more about you and your dating preferences than you do. We’re already halfway there. Every day we surrender more of our private information to computers — both on purpose, via things like social media uploads and voluntary genetic testing, and accidentally, via our viewing and clicking habits.
But as of today, these digital matchmakers aren’t so advanced that they can’t be gamed. Enter one of our favorite research/entertainment sources for our audio companion episode (Dating in the Digital Age): Amy Webb’s TEDx Talk, How I Gamed Online Data to Meet My Match:
The histories of sites like OkCupid and Facebook, both of which ride a weird digital line between friendly and romantic networking, are also illuminating. Dating is highly personal, but it’s also a big business.
I’ll leave you with a piece written for HuffPost Women by our compatriot Cristen Conger of Stuff Mom Never Told You: Blocking My Ex on Facebook Got Me Over the Breakup. Because it’s inevitable that all this new technology will change the way we deal with relationship endings as well as beginnings.