Can you “hack” your way to love through a dating app?
Online dating has become increasingly popular in recent years, with dating apps and websites providing a convenient way for people to connect with potential partners. According to a survey of over 5,000 couples who got engaged or married within the last year by the wedding planning website The Knot, over 25% of all the respondents met online. Dating apps offer a convenient and almost industrial approach to dating that allows you to browse through thousands of potential matches. However, just like with most other online services these days, there are other things going on beneath the surface.
Algorithm is a word that has gained so much prominence in recent years as algorithms have been finding their way into more and more of our daily lives. This can go all the way from recommending a song on Spotify to denying your right to enter a country or access basic services afforded to you by your rights. On that scale of creepy pervasiveness, where would you place putting together a shortlist for finding your soulmate? It may seem like a good idea to seek help breaking down a seemingly infinite number of potential lovers, but is it not a good idea to try and find out how those systems work, when it is influencing what may end up being the most important step you’re going to take in your life? Furthermore, are the people out there who know how these algorithms work, and are they able to game the system because of it?
How do dating apps work?
A handy online game called Monster Match is a great tool for learning about how these dating algorithms work. You create a fake profile and then you are given the chance to browse through a series of fake potential matches. Then as you advance through the various stages of online dating, it will give you insight into how the app is working in the background to try and match you with potential dates.
A basic rundown goes like this, dating apps use a variety of methods to match users, including using algorithms to match users based on their preferences and behavior. These algorithms take into account factors such as age, location, interests, and activity on the app. Additionally, many dating apps use questionnaires or surveys to gather information about users, which is then used to suggest potential matches. Some apps also use data from social media profiles to suggest matches. The specific algorithms and methods used by dating apps can vary, but the goal is generally to connect users with compatible partners.
Beyond adding all this information yourself, however, the algorithms are collecting information on your app usage patterns and even reading the messages you’re sending to matches. It can then use this data to make predictions about what it thinks will be a good match. The scary thing about all, however, is just how arbitrary it all is. For example, if you get a phone number of a potential match, which the algorithm knows because it reads your messages, it will take this as a positive signal and send you more engaged users. In essence, this categorizes users into different buckets based on aspects that don’t really have anything to do with what you want and more on what it wants to give you.
So how can you take more control over the system?
Well, it’s difficult really. According to some interviews gathered in a podcast by The Verge, even trying to feed the algorithm what you think will help it offer you a better group of matches for you, the results will not be what you expect. In fact, the categories outlined above seem to be segmented, with a general population category representing something of a trashcan, in the algorithm’s eyes. Once you end up in a category like that, you’re basically just seen as a vacuous profile and the dating app that Is supposed to be doing a lot of the heavy lifting for you is basically just serving up anyone and everyone.
In fact, this generic ideal is likely to be a successful strategy if you are looking to make a lot of matches. Give fewer in-depth details about yourself and you’re likely to switch off fewer potential matches. This is borne out in lists of tips to use on your dating profile, which highlights things like pictures with your mom and pictures with your pets alongside nonsense copy that doesn’t mean anything as ways to ensure you’ll match with a lot of users. This means that the way these apps work is to actually promote not being yourself as the best way to find love or at least lots of matches.
But what about if you want to find love and not simply get lots of dates? Well in this case it isn’t very good either as the dating apps may, in fact, want to withhold potential good matches for a couple of reasons. First off is the obvious one, if you find the love of your life, what do you need a dating app for? This is a bit like Big Pharma selling the treatment rather than the cure. The second one relates to the perceived psychological effects of matching with multiple great matches in a short period of time. Dating apps may withhold the love of your life from you because they don’t think you’d be able to handle matching with them if you’d recently made some other good matches too.
So, can you hack your way to love through dating apps? I mean, it’s a bit of anathema to love and romance isn’t it, hacking? Simply put, you need to be honest with love otherwise it’s something else. However, there are ways to hack your way to more matches. You just have to erase as much as possible about who you are and stick to the generic fluffiness that works.Advertisement