I suppose it was only a matter of time, but it seems even online dating services are now becoming just another business.
One day when I was trawling through writing jobs on LinkedIn, I stumbled across an interesting-looking role as a creative writer with what appeared to be a dating company called Vida (Virtual Dating Agency) Select. As the position looked vaguely interesting, I sent off an application and was pleased to receive further details of the role and a link to a writing test. But when I looked at the job specification I became a little uncomfortable.
Where I had expected that the role to mainly consist of spicing up and correcting clients' profiles, it wanted me to do much more. They wanted me to create a range of ice-breaker messages for client correspondence alongside communicating with matches until a date was set or a phone number was provided. It was made clear that, after this hurdle had been reached, the client would then take over the communication with the match.
. . .
This whole experience left me with a lot of questions: why were people doing this? Was their work/life balance so consuming that they were unable to set aside the time to use dating apps? And, if this was the case, what did this say about our society? Did I really live in a world where everything had been commercialised to the degree that people were outsourcing themselves as products to be sold?
. . .
Vida Select charges anywhere between $695- $1695 per month for 2-12 dates. The more you pay, the more dates you get.
Depending on the package selected, a vast team of people from ghostwriters, stylists, and photographers help to create a version of yourself which is likely to get a positive online response. The client oversees the process right from the first meeting with a ghostwriter, where the writer is able to get a sense of the client’s personality in order to mimic them in future correspondence.
Valdez explains, “We get to know our client during a 90-minute conversation, select the best platforms for their search, send a photographer out to meet them if needed, write their dating profiles, select the most optimal photo lineup, touch up their pics, and get their accounts fully configured. Our matchmaking team then identifies promising potential matches who meet the client’s ‘must-have’ criteria”.
From this meeting, the client must approve the presented dating profiles before they are posted on major dating websites like Tinder, OkCupid, and Bumble. Then, the client need only sit back and watch as the writer takes over to begin the introductory process with witty open-ended banter. Clients are able to view and contribute to the conversation as well – and this has apparently only led to a couple of close shaves where both the ghostwriter and the client have simultaneously sent messages about entirely different subjects.
Clients are free to take over correspondence at any time but, as said, it is automatically passed over once the match provides their phone number or a date is made (and the writer received their $1.75 commission). Obviously, with such a degree of effort constituted, clients generally have multiple matches each week and have the luxury of being very picky.
There's more at the link.
So, you won't find "true love" so much as "true merchandising" through such services. It makes my gorge rise. Now romance has become just as much of a con game as anything else that's been financialized, consumerized, pixelized and automated.
I have no idea what modern dating is all about, but in my youth, it was all about meeting people in the flesh and deciding whether or not they appealed to you. Friends would introduce you to people they felt might be compatible, and it was all done face-to-face. There was little or no possibility of third parties controlling the process in the initial stages, to "package" you as rosily as possible. Although Miss D. and I made initial contact online, it was through a mutual friend who felt we needed to talk, so we had that initial sense that this wasn't just a random encounter. (Thanks again, Oleg!)
Here's a challenge for my more technologically inclined readers. How can we introduce a virus or two into the automated dating process? I want something that strips away the shallowness and stupidity, and exposes who's really doing the talking. Have at it!