Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Not Surprised

The New York Times reports this morning that on-line dating services—well at least one, OkCupid—has discovered that single people meeting in bars find it easier to encounter individuals they actually like. People are perversely peculiar: they cannot be captured abstractly using questionnaires. Just yesterday I noted in a comment here that in modern times people live in an abstract world; they live suspended in thin air. Their roots don’t reach the soil of organic reality, real culture. This story was a kind of Amen to that comment. Evidently these services work by matching people with nicely-fitting “profiles”; those people then “get to know each other” by exchanging e-mails; after fairly extended periods like that, they arrange to meet for a meal or a drink. And in most cases in, like, five seconds, they know this was a bad mistake. But in a bar now—or some cookout—lo and behold. Once a spark appears, and there is a kind of drawing together—and it’s clearly visible in the sparkling of the eyes—e-mails are just fine to keep it going once it’s started. The inverse doesn’t work. The dating services, however, do provide a genuine service by arranging such physical encounters. All those people in the bar are certifiably single and searching. Odd that modern urbanized existence, where vast masses live almost shoulder to shoulder, should fail naturally to produce social encounters so that the Market must be summoned. The married mingle in various ways—block parties, children’s sports, church, and so on—but those single, or single again, in their late twenties and thirties? Much harder to do.

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