Mar 012015
 
I pounded out a little cathartic bit about my online dating tragicomedy recently, and after a bit more thought and experience realized the failures there aren’t entirely my own. It occurred to me that Match is missing an element critical to any online community.

That is, the community.

I pick on Match because, of all the services I’ve tried so far, they seem to have (most of) their stuff together.  It’s richly-layered and provides a wealth of discovery features.  One just has to grit one’s teeth and pay for those most useful.

After some heavy (read: sad and pathetic) usage however I realized that, despite its functional abundance, Match presents a largely binary experience to users.

There’s one world where we’re virtual voyeurs, searching up and browsing profile after profile from the emotional safety of our electronic devices, in the desperate hope of cutting through conventional dating obstacles.  Photos, descriptions and profiles can go a long way toward improving dating efficiency– providing, of course, that members are being honest.

Then there’s the other world.  The real one, where Match arranges Stir Events in an attempt to drag chair-bound lonely hearts out of our screen-oriented existence and into environs more conducive to socializing.

The problem is, many of us aren’t always ready/willing/able to make that leap.

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Current Match profile pic. Aiming for “epic”

Take me.  It may surprise readers and Twitter/Facebook followers to learn that I’m actually shy.  Forget making small talk to women in person; I’m just not wired for it.  And even the relative anonymity of a service like Match is little help.  I feel like I should have a motivational coach beside me every time I hover over the Send button for a cold email.  It’s that difficult to do.

But like many introverts I can actually thrive in online discussion forums.  I coined the term contextrovert for this some time ago: introverts who morph into extroverts under supportive contexts.  When I’m in a receptive milieu, I don’t fear speaking up.  I actually can’t shut up.  I’m lacking that cranial editor who shouts ok Randy enough.

What would help me, and possibly others, is a bridge between Match’s two worlds.  A discussion forum where we can let our avatars’ hair down and just chat.  Lack of one compels me back to Twitter and Facebook.  If they’re smart, either or both could at some point capitalize on this and perhaps offer an integrated dating service of their own.  And don’t get me started on LinkedIn, where some of the connection requests are already suspicious.

Don’t laugh: they all need to make money.

I haven’t tried it yet, but I just discovered that the Plentyoffish dating service is way ahead of Match in this regard.  They already have a forum, and I note that it’s heavily used.

So come on, Match.  Enrich the experience even further.

Don’t make me punish Twitter any more than I have to.

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