Sean Rad, Tinder’s CEO recently gave an interview that was described as cringe worthy.
He says he has a lot of theories about “hook-up culture”, including “that feminism has led to it because now women are more independent and pursuing their desires. And that leads to both parties being more sexually active. It’s not because of Tinder.”
Tinder is owned by Match Group Inc. This recently formed online dating conglomerate was forced to update its SEC IPO filing because of Rad’s extemporaneous remarks.
The future of online dating is going to be determined by one primary factor – the self-reporting nature of online dating profiles. In effect, too many people lie. These aren’t necessarily malicious lies. They are most often lies of omission and lies of aspiration. We don’t tell the whole truth and when we make an attempt at truth in our online dating profiles, we say what we want to be, not what we are.
The lies in profiles make online dating a very bad experience rife with disappointment and frustration. For online dating companies, the challenge is privacy. Verifying information is actually a straightforward technological process. The blockades to truthful, verified online dating profiles are mostly about laws and our own human behavior.
We want to lie on our online dating profiles. We actually need to lie on our online dating profiles because there’s an arms race of bullshit even if unintentional. When one person lies on an online dating profile, it becomes tacit permission for another person to lie. The cycle has been repeating every dating cycle since online dating was invented. In an effort to make us more marketable, we exaggerate, we obfuscate, and we prevaricate.
There’s also a need to control our personal narratives. When we link up to other databases (if we could) such as credit ratings, employment records, marriage and divorce records, police reports, we lose control of our own information. With our digital past in hot pursuit, we can’t craft a new life away from our previous mistakes. For post-divorce singles, this is especially significant because the end of a marriage comes the opportunity for personal change and transformation.
A secondary factor is the catalog mentality – especially in major metropolitan areas – where we happily reject a person knowing full well that there will be yet another profile to evaluate. Some mobile apps are attempting to deal with this. I wrote about it previously.
Here are my predictions for the future of online dating –
1. Mobile apps will continue to grow and possibly overtake PC, browser-based online dating. Delayed matching will be a common feature intentionally or because of premium pricing structures. The culture of sexually hooking up will still be the order of the day for the younger demographics and will also bleed up into the older demographic. The expectation of sex isn’t ending any time soon in the context of dating. Sean Rad was only somewhat right in his interview, feminism did unleash the unrestrained sexuality of youth but it needed something like Tinder to facilitate that unrestrained sexuality.
2. Validated profiles will seriously divide online dating subscribers into two categories with pros and cons for each group. Singles that pay will select validated dating where profiles are checked against existing databases through a background check. It’s already starting with ValiDATE, an online dating service that is being rolled out in various cities as it grows. The expense of validated dating will also serve to weed out the validation queens and entertainment seekers. Paying fees keeps people serious about their dating endeavors. Online dating services without validated profiles will get short shrift. Of course, hackers or the seriously dishonest will find ways to work around the database connections that are used to validate profiles.
3. Videos will gradually become a greater part of all online dating websites and applications. The ability to store and display videos will add a very important dimension to profiles far and above the ordinary photos. Good videos will allow for much better expressions of one’s personality. This, of course, will create specialists who will help create those videos for online dating profiles. It’s up to the online dating services to solve the technical issues.
4. Traditional matchmaking will continue to grow but assisted with online dating so the matchmaker can use it to find a larger pool of singles to match with clients. Regardless, validated online dating and traditional matchmaking will become serious competitors unless clients have the deep pockets to afford the matchmaker’s fees. Online dating can go from the low-end of free online dating websites and mobile apps to high-end of validated profiles. It can not, however, compete with full-service matchmakers.
5. Niche online dating websites will chip away at the big boys from Match Holdings until that company buys them up. This will be an ongoing process. I strongly suspect that entrepreneurs behind niche online dating websites have an exit plan of being bought by Match Holdings so they can profit handsomely. Business is business, after all.
Online dating can’t fix the issues of human behavior. The best that the technology behind it can do is to facilitate how us humble humans can meet one another. It was an excellent idea for online dating websites to organize live events. But such events are not the core competency behind the algorithms and databases driving online dating technology. People still need to meet face to face. After all, the purpose of online dating is to stop online dating. However, that’s actually not good for business.
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