The advent of technology has reconfigured the way humans interact and form relationships. The democratization of digital dating technology has transformed complex courting processes into simple swipes and text messages. However, the majority of users are unaware of the internal rating system that assigns a “desirability” score for each user, which some argue depends on selective traits such as physical appearance. Algorithmic mechanisms also compute prospective matches deemed to yield the highest success rate, which has significant implications on real-life relationships that may entail. Online courting has undoubtedly expanded the pool of potential partners for users. Yet treating the system as a numbers game through pursuing as many mates as possible can often backfire. In fact, people in the slimmest dating markets, such as LGBTQ+ and middle-aged users, experience better results by narrowing their searches. Understanding the underlying algorithms behind match-making apps will allow users to deploy strategies that optimize dating technology and bring digital matches to life.
Go up and introduce yourself. You mentally rehearse again to summon the courage to approach the stranger you are interested in. Yet you abort your mission as you reflect on few concerns: Is the person even single in the first place? Did we make eye-contact-a sign of mutual interest, or is it just wishful thinking? Rejection hurts, and a public one is much more poignant. How should I hide my humiliation if the task failed? You scorn these unknown variables and wish more information were available to inform your move. Lucky for you, with the advent of dating technology, this data can be literally at your fingertips.
The proliferation of online matchmaking has encoded a technological element into people’s love lives. Automated data collection and analysis allow dating algorithms to couple users with common interests, beliefs, and even inherent biases. Since less time is spent unearthing shared values and deal-breakers through trial-and-error exchanges, the sprouting of relationships has been accelerated and the enjoyment of the fruits of love prolonged. A swipe of the finger is a deceptively simple way to signal interest. Yet behind the “screens” are a myriad of algorithms that use computing brute force to generate compatible matches based on characteristics such as age, interests, beliefs, geography, etc. In addition to arranging similar pairs, dating programs also allow for people with entirely dissimilar activity patterns in real life to cross paths virtually. Although most people are not aware of it, the input of computer engineers who orchestrate code underlying dating apps has made it possible to dictate romantic output for users – configuring human attraction into simple swipes.
A History of Match Seeking
Although online courtship seems to be a novel practice, human beings have long broadcasted the desire for relationships that might have otherwise eluded our daily routines. Newspaper personal ads for British bachelors to advertise themselves first surfaced in 1695. Much like online bios today, men could publicize information to enhance their appeal, such as “possessing a very good estate.” One of the earliest suitors even shamelessly sought “some good young gentlewoman that has a fortune of ?3,000 or thereabouts.” Online dating as we know it today was birthed in 1965 when a group of Harvard undergraduates pioneered Operation Match as the first machine-driven matchmaker. Users answered a survey for the computer to deduce a Wyoming dating service list of potential matches, setting precedent for the process standardized across most dating apps today. The Internet boom in the 1990s revolutionized every facet of human communication and romance was no exception. Match, the first dating platform to garner a sizable user base, was founded in 1995, and countless love search apps are still being developed today .