Sunday, February 12, 2012

The dating game at your fingertips.

        The other day I assigned an advertising class their homework: create three ads for an online dating site. The next day,  in The Wall Street Journal, appeared an article with this headline: "Is Online Dating Hurting Your Prospects for Love"?

         Reporting on a comprehensive review in The Journal of Psychological Science in the Public Interest, the WSJ article says that it's "a great way to meet people but not for leading you to the partner of your dreams". Apparently online dating is not a great way for meeting Mr. Right, but fine for meeting Mr. Right Now.

         The study's author is Eli Finkel, a psychology professor at Northwestern University. He says "Internet dating sites can expand the dating pool, which is especially helpful to people with limited opportunities to meet others, such as working single parents without a lot of free time."

         On the Internet, you instantly know who's available, without going through the "Do you come here very often? --- Do you like the band?" preliminaries.

         But Professor Finkel says that on the online dating sites "it's hard to judge chemistry or rapport --- so-called experiential information". You have to meet face to face. Some dating sites encourage you to look for similarities, but that apparently isn't good at predicting long-term suitability, either.

         I like giving my students assignments for products and services that they or their friends might use or consider. In the real world of advertising and marketing, that's often what you strive for. The very first client I was assigned to as a copywriter in Chicago was Jim Beam Bourbon. That evening after work,  the account executive arranged for me to meet the client for a drink. I naively ordered a scotch and soda. The client was gracious enough to say, "That's okay, we make scotch, too". You can imagine how I would've botched an online dating site client. I probably would've asked him if he could introduce me to a tall blonde.

         To let the good professor have the last word on online dating: "Don't spend an extensive amount of time scouring profiles and interacting electronically. Instead, use the profiles to find people who look interesting or appealing, then relatively quickly try to meet that person to assess whether the spark is there in person."

         Come to think of it, did I ever ask you what your sign is?



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