Shouldn't We All Be on Match.com?

Online dating used to carry a pretty significant stigma. Of course, so did sleeping with someone before marriage. Needless to say, our dating culture has changed, and so have the resources we use to do it. I think we all have a tendency to associate online relationships with perversion and Dateline documentaries. But given the depth and variety of our current web interactions, it seems illogical that a site like match.com isn't yet a gen-y staple. Let me explain.

The average 20-something has a username on dozens of different sites - from ebay to someecards.com. Even further, a good number of those sites are social networks, designed to link millions of users together for various reasons. There's a social network for everything:

Facebook/Myspace: peer-driven social networking

Linkedin: professional networking

Twitter: real-time info and idea sharing

Blogger/Wordpress: blogging

AIM/G-Chat: instant messenging

Youtube: user-generated video

Yahoo/ESPN: fantasy sports

And these are just the major networks - other niche sites like Current (user-ranked media), Mashable (online media), DeviantArt (art), and even My.BarackObama are loaded with gen-y users who are at risk of exploding they're so goddamn connected.

Now let's take it one step further. Social networks are founded on the idea that users want to share a little piece of themselves (or a huge, awkward piece) with the world. Across sites, it's true that the info, ideas, and media we share are all carefully chosen to reflect who we are. We upload our funniest videos and remove unflattering pictures. We wall-post some messages and privately send others. We let some users see our info, and block it from others.

Every social network broadcasts a certain piece of who we are - or think we are. The only difference is who's listening.

Facebook shows our social side, even when we're consumed with work.
Twitter shows our ideas and media tastes even when we don't tweet for days.
AIM and G-Chat show away messages even when we're long-gone.
Linkedin shows our professional profile, even when we're not job-hunting.

Shouldn't Match.com show our relationship preferences...even when we're not looking?

The fact is, flirting, courting, and relationships are a huge part of the 20-something lifestyle. Most of us spend a lot more time courting a significant other than we do job-hunting. Doesn't it make sense to create a profile that shows your softer, more romantic side? If everybody had online dating profiles, it help prevent the awkward combination of chatting and flirting that haunts facebook. Instead of initiating a creepy facebook poke, suitors could wink through Match.com - a network designed for courting.

Already in a relationship? No problem, why not declare it through Match.com and show off all the commonalities you share with your significant other. Do you two only share 6 levels of compatibility? Uh oh, your friends will be the first to tell you that the relationship isn't going anywhere.

Status Updates:

Exploring? Click a green dot beside your profile name.
Not really looking? put a yellow one.
Taken? Add a red dot (and the person's name if you'd like).

These features don't yet exist, but it doesn't mean they shouldn't.

Whether we like it or not, online social networks reveal massive amounts of info about relationships, hook-ups, and break-ups. And, as these communities continue to grow in popularity (and features), we're becoming more and more comfortable sharing personal details. But facebook isn't the place to flirt and court - you can only learn so much about a person from their wall.

We have online profiles for so many different parts of our lives - social, academic, professional, creative. But on top of jobs and social lives, we're also hoping to one day meet that special person - so doesn't it make sense to join a dating network too?

Great idea? Terrible idea? Already a member? Let me know.

Hit Me.

8 comments:

Paxton said...

What I find so interesting about this is that while you champion the internet as a means of meeting people, you never mention actually meeting and interacting in person. Everything is done from the safety and anonymity of the internet. Additionally, matching people by personality takes the fun out of average, ok, brutal and awful relationships that help us find what we really are looking for in someone. Just because social networking sites are popular, doesn’t make them good. Just because social networking sites are available doesn’t mean we should use them.

Matt said...

It's true. Nobody can really vouch for the quality of interactions on social networks like facebook. But I guess that's problem. Facebook isn't an appropriate medium for flirting and courting, but people use it anyway...tons of people.

Facebook, like dating, is a social 'constant,' whether we like it or not. And it's becoming yet another tool to socialize (not necessarily a better one). I guess my suggestion is for setting up an appropriate medium for those who do find value in social networks.

Sure, we don't have to use online communities for anything...but we do. By creating a well-defined dating/relationship/love network, people who are looking for relationships can explore without having to yell through wall posts and status messages. But of course, you have to appreciate online communities in the first place for it to work.

Thanks for the comment, as always Pax!

Anonymous said...

The difference between facebook and match/eHarmony/YahooPersonals is the money involved. Dating sites aren't cheap (and they shouldn't be, just take a perusal of the free personals on Craigslist for why). Everyone can't be on match because it's cost-prohibitive. Match carries a stigma because only those "desperate" enough to pay money for a dating site are on it. It's a cycle.

That being said, there shouldn't be a stigma at all. The money spent on match is much better spent than wasting $30 at some bar to buy a drinks for girls that turn out to have a husband and 3 kids.

Matt said...

@anon

Great point about having to pay for Match! I didn't even think about that. I created a free profile to browse, so I'm not sure how much the service actually costs. I guess the kind of service I'm talking about would be a free facebook-type format with a match.com type atmosphere (i.e.; regulated profiles). Not sure if it's even possible, but I'd sign up!

AD said...

Another great post, Matt. I think your general point is well taken, but Paxton and Anonymous raise valid points that go to your implicit assumption that our online life should mirror in key functional respects our actual life. Like Paxton and Anonymous, I am willing to question this assumption. Web 2.0 is addictive. This doesn't mean it is bad. Rather, like all broad innovations that successfully address a surprising number of our desires, they envelop us rather quickly-- often too quickly to maintain consideration of primary questions (i.e., should we be getting into the business of creating a multifaceted web presence for ourselves in the first place?). I think it's worth stepping back and asking what kind of life we could have if we could share every little thought and link and funny or intriguing notion that crossed our brains (Twitter). With a hint of self control, probably a pretty good one, as we could connect those little random thoughts to our friends miles away and share a bit of emotion. On the other hand (match.com), what sort of life would we have without the occasional brutal/disastrous relationship to help us appreciate the ones we worked at and were successes in the end? Maybe not as good there.
My point is, the Internets can make a lot of the things we want to do easier. I'm not sure about the actual development, from scratch, of meaningful relationships of any kind (including facebook here).
That you're grappling with this topic (and doing so eloquently) supports the fact that there is no magic bullet (despite what Congress and the President tell you) for figuring out human stuff. All praise is due to the one true God. Everything else we've gotta figure out.
Good job.

AD said...

I'd say you've beat the WSJ to the punch. Topical article here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123819495915561237.html?mod=djem_jiewr_swwgn_040209

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AD said...

Sandra, maybe wait to comment until you've read the post.

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