What Technology Does to Meeting and Mating

Monday, February 11, 2013

Journalist Dan Slater shows how online dating is changing society in more profound ways than we imagine. In Love in the Time of Algorithms: What Technology Does to Meeting and Mating, he explores how these new technologies are reconditioning our feelings about commitment and challenging the traditional notions of adult life. He goes behind the scenes to see how dating sites capitalize on our quest for love.


Dan Slater

Comments [24]

Yuck! from Hell On Earth

It's all so creepy. The key phrase is "billion dollar industry".
Like most other businesses, they're preying on human misery and consumerist fantasy.

Buy a dog or try to enjoy being alone if it's come to that, suckers.

Feb. 26 2013 04:02 PM

I met my current boyfriend on OkCupid. One of our requirements was: NPR is a must! We are both in our 40's, have had long-term relationships. Eight months, now, and we are going strong.

Feb. 11 2013 02:16 PM

K, you hit it all on the nose!!!!!


Feb. 11 2013 01:14 PM
k from brooklyn

I think online dating only works if you fit a racial, gendered, or age related stereotype niche. If you can't be completely sized up and generalized by your profile picture, then you will find online dating disastrous. It's window shopping for a partner.

As a black woman with a PhD, who doesn't look at all gamine, soft, or feminine, and doesn't enjoy all things typically associated with my phenotype, I have often been overlooked, or contacted by people who, because I look a certain way think we have something in common. Never, despite my listed interests, have I ever been written to, or received replies from others with whom I share common interests, but don't fit their preconceived notions of what I should be as a female/black/young woman.

You can't shop for people the way you would for clothing. Or maybe you can, if they display as much depth as a summer T-shirt.

Feb. 11 2013 12:57 PM
yesha from brooklyn

I feel like i'm a warhorse of online dating. I did online dating before there was online dating the way it is now -- in the nineties i was new in California, and was very lonely and tried out Telepersonals.... and after that, a slew of other sites.... including Indiandating, craigslist and others...

in fact, though i did make some good friends that way, nothing has really worked out, long term.... but i'm still hopeful...

Cuz, on the other hand , i've encouraged lots of my friends to go online, and one of them met her husband on her very first Craigslist date back in 2002! So really, truly, I think it's a matter of luck --- right time, right place.

Recently, my sister texted me to ask if i thought she should join Eharmony .... below is what i said... After I wrote this, I started marveling at how many of my friends met their significant others on line... And in such varied places.


Hmm.... Maybe. Hey, my friend Nilay met his wife there! Sandip met his at, believe it or not, plentyof fish! Elaine met her hubby at craigslist, back in the day, and so did Sarah. Smitha met hers on Indian dating, and Betsy met hers (an Indian scientist) on Yahoo personals. All that's to say, its not the where, it's the timing and the Who. But, mostly the timing. That all said, if you haven't yet tried ok cupid, give it a shot. It's free.

Feb. 11 2013 12:40 PM
Raj from Bronx, NY

Touching on "data" and "parameters", I guess, I'd like to know if your book touches on race and how it, if at all, it factors into the online dating world. I'm a born and raised New Yorker of Indian descent who's been on match and okcupid for awhile, more consistently in the past.. I put a lot of time on them and I often wondered if my race and presumptions about it affected whether people would respond to messages

Feb. 11 2013 12:40 PM
kc from the UWS

Getting married now, but years ago I met someone [who i thought was great guy] on Match who was recently separated. We had a wonderful time together, lots of laughs, lots of things in common... Then, after dating a month or two, one night he calls me on his way home from what seemed to have been another fun date - and told me he was dumping me because he was only on Match to "practice dating" and when he was ready to really meet someone for a relationship, he was going to use e harmony. . . HA!
....Okay... Suffice it to say, I am so happy to not be out in that online dating world any more. I can be really rough - not to mention a full time job!

Feb. 11 2013 12:39 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Marriage today is an evil institution from a man's POV, as more often than not, it robs men of their money and progeny. Men are weak, fearing nothing more than to be alone. And it's about time that children are produced in factories, as in the novel "Brave New World," and marriage gets dumped into the dustbin of history along with many relics of the past. It's now a dysfunctional institution that causes more harm than good, especially to men.

Feb. 11 2013 12:38 PM
john from office

All of this sounds expensive for the male of the species. Planning a lunch and dinner date on the same day??.

Feb. 11 2013 12:32 PM

Some sites try to get people to meet right away. I've tried speed dating to avoid the back and forth emailing because it can lead you astray, as your guest says. I think the best route is to use online sites as just another avenue to finding people in other ways and not as a sole means of finding someone.

Feb. 11 2013 12:32 PM

Internet dating is an Intellectual Experience. Falling in love is an Emotional Experience. It's hard to make the two meet. takes patience. Bottom line: ya gotta kiss a lot of frogs.

Feb. 11 2013 12:31 PM

Thanks for interrupting Laurie the phone caller Leonard to make a silly joke about gaining weight by being taken to dinner so much. She was going to make a comparison to dating from a few years ago to now and now that moment is lost. I want to hear her what she was going to say!

Feb. 11 2013 12:29 PM

Hi - I'm 43 and am a busy professional who lives in Riverdale, meaning that I spend a lot of time at work and I live in an area that does not have so much going on. I have an active life: daily ashtanga practice and bike racer, so I use online dating as a tool to meet new people outside of these activity circles.

Here is what I have found from interweb dating w/r/t men in my age group: guys who are married, guys who have never been married or have kids and live with their mothers, guys who post their "manhood" size on their profiles, guys who text nude photos even after you've both decided you're not right for each other, guys who say they want a relationship but then decide they don't etc.

Basically it's like the wild west out there - and I'm sure that women do the same thing as well.

Honestly I find the whole thing amusing at this point and have gotten some very funny stories and can entertain family and friends when regaling dating stories, so there is an upside...

Feb. 11 2013 12:29 PM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

Can the guest confirm what I've heard that there are FAR more men on these sites than women?

A woman I was in touch with said it was the opposite and her friend worked at Match, so she knew.

Her point doesn't seem to correlate with the fact that women get sooo many more contacts than men.

Feb. 11 2013 12:29 PM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

How about addressing the issue of how expensive it can be for men who aren't wealthy?

Women can "just show up" and get free entertainment. Many women DO take that attitude -- if they've got nothing else going on.

Feb. 11 2013 12:27 PM
Barry from LES

One thing I noticed about the new is that it requires a public profile if you're going to write to people. Has the online dating culture/stigma changed so much about something so private to others?

Feb. 11 2013 12:27 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Wait a minute--not being able to have (1 kind of) intercourse is not the same as not being able to have sex at all. I hope the site set up by the woman Mr. Slater mentioned reflects that.

Feb. 11 2013 12:21 PM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

Considering that the divorce rate is 50%, I can't see how computers can do much worse, especially since computers can match up certain very specific characteristics much faster and more accurately (assuming no one lies) than one can during searching and dating.

Apparently, no system is fail safe, but for people who have logistical obstacles to meeting others, computer dating is a dream come true.

Feb. 11 2013 12:21 PM
John A

What about "Plenty Oafish" dot com. Matches me for sure! :)

Feb. 11 2013 12:15 PM
Jeff from UES

I was dating online over 10 years ago when there was a stigma about it. These days it's very common, but my takeaway was always "keep your ego in check." Do any of these algorithms detect or suggest users back off on the superlatives?

Feb. 11 2013 12:14 PM
John A

It's often said that FaceBook's success came from including the relationship status of the user - making it a dating site. For people under 30, Facebook effects the dating of probably 90% of everyone in that agegroup. Its a fundamental change.

Feb. 11 2013 12:12 PM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

Insightful comment Susan E.

Yes, we find one tiny detail that we find "unacceptable" and reject the person. The old "boy in a candy store" problem -- too many choices and we are paralyzed with them and can't make a choice and see it through.

No patience, "instant chemistry" is the note of the day -- and no faith that we can learn to appreciate each other and the relationship can grow over time.

Feb. 11 2013 12:12 PM
fuva from harlemworld

How is the courting ritual different online?

Also, wonder if this will negatively affect relationship durability, given the perception of increased options online.

Feb. 11 2013 12:10 PM
Susan E. from northern nj

Online daters (I'm one of them) have too much inhibition. Being privy to all the information given about potential dates often prevents me from moving forward. Gone are the days of disinhibition, which I believe often moved us forward in forming meaningful and lasting relationships.

Feb. 08 2013 07:09 PM

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