The Great Divide

I was at pub quiz last week telling a friend about the ridiculous spam messages I get on OK Cupid that say absolutely nothing, such as “hey whats up” (notice the complete lack of punctuation and capitalization) or “I like your picture, plz reply me I think we’d be good friends or more,” or my new favorite, “you are a graceful lady” (obviously the bloke’s never met me…).  As I was going on about how no one must answer to this shit, he starts laughing and says, “What are you talking about?”  I look at him quizzically.  “Why would I respond to someone who obviously hasn’t read my profile?”  I ask. He then tells me something which completely blows my mind: When he was on OKC, he got way more responses from a simple “hello” than he did from asking questions or writing profile-specific comments.  “In fact,” he went on to tell me, “If I did message women with more specific questions or comments, they never wrote me back because they thought I was weird.”  What. 

“Besides,” he continued, “No one writes a long profile, anyway.  Everyone’s profile is just a short series of sentences and doesn’t really say anything about them.”  I countered that immediately, because most of the profiles I look at are long and detailed.  “Let’s take a look,” he suggested.  I opened up my OKC profile (he couldn’t open his because if he went on OKC his “girlfriend’s friends would see him and then she would kill him,” which is a whole other can of worms) and started doing a search of women seeking men.  We looked at the first few profiles that popped up, and they all had long, well-written, detailed profiles.  “See?”  I said.  “People DO write a lot about themselves.”  But then, a little light bulb went off in my head.  These profiles were the first to pop up because I have my OKC search set up to rank the people who pop up in my searches from highest match percentage to lowest match percentage, meaning that all the people we were looking at had over a 90% match with me — meaning further that they were likely to answer questions saying that they were attracted to intellect and that grammar mistakes bothered them.  I told my friend as much, and he suggested that we scroll on to find people who had less than a 50% match with me.  So we did.

We started finding profiles that had lots of photos, but very little writing.  Profiles that had no punctuation in and around sentences, but LOTS of punctuation marks used as emoticons.  Profiles that were just a series of clichés. These were the women who would find it “weird” if someone actually wrote them something of substance. 

This left me wondering about whether there’s a direct correlation among online dating site users between profile length and the types of messages they send to new people.  I’d also be really curious about a correlation between objective attractiveness (e.g. facial symmetry) and the types of messages a person sends / what’s included in one’s profile.  It seems to me that the people I have lower matches with are more conventionally attractive (or at least photogenic).  I’m convinced of one thing for sure: I’m pretty happy with the logarithm they’ve devised if it’s matching me with other people who take the time to write specific details about themselves.  Now if only those women dated women…


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