As the internet changes the ways we interact with each other, and web 2.0 and social media change the way we interact with the internet, there is a curious lack of convergence in one area: online dating.
Much has been made of the success of online dating, indeed eHarmony claims to have been behind 2% of marriages last year in the States. It has succeeding in bringing people to the internet, and people on the internet together – surely one of the primary aims of social media.
Yet online dating sites are almost completely devoid of any sort of meaningful social interaction. They are strictly controlled, rigidly policed and highly inflexible. The (often expensive) subscription system is not to blame either, free sites such as Oasis Active are no different. Nor do the rules stop one from lying or misrepresenting oneself – after all, its all user input, regardless if its free form or check boxes.
What are online dating sites afraid of? Its clear what they are lacking. Would you really believe a computer-generated checklist style match from eHarmony (resplendent with “this response will make me look good”) over reading and judging a free-form based profile similar to facebook or myspace yourself – to use two common and unimaginative examples.
And strict these sites are. RSVP, eHarmony and Oasis Active all knocked back my primary profile picture (seen below on this profile). Oasis Active knocked back my about me profile of “I’d rather not describe my personality, i’m here to impress people after all… ” – no matter how true it is. Perhaps worst of all, eHarmony insists on ‘matching’ me with a 5’2″ non-drinking Christian from Florida, despite me (being 6’0″, beer-loving and Australian) ranking drinking habits, height and geographic proximity as the only things I cared about in a match.
All of these things matter to me in finding a friend (or, maybe, perhaps, date?) and yet in no way can they be worked into the current popular online dating format – which is screaming for a social media make over.