When the Sublime Business Geniuses in Silicon Valley set themselves to solving a problem, the end result is, after much tinkering and testing, an obvious solution that already existed. It could be reverse engineering the concept of public transport, accidentally inventing a vending machine, or, as in the case of Hinge Matchmaker, devolving all the way back to the original dating game: being set up by your nosy-ass friends and family...but on your phone!
Hinge, the millennial-focussed dating app, has marketed itself as a more relationship-driven alternative to hook-up focussed services. "Escape the games. Find something real," it says. The thing is, when you gamify the dating experience, it starts looking like a lot of fun to people who never get to play themselves. That's why so many of your partnered-up friends like to swipe through your Tinder for you-it looks like a blast. We married people want in on the action.
We married people want in on the action.
In theory, Hinge's new venture Matchmaker solves that secondhand thirst. Users who download Matchmaker-now separate from the Hinge app, so as to avoid obvious complications for married people-connect it to their Facebook profile, which would never be used in any nefarious way, so don't even worry about it. This gives them a list of friends who use Hinge already. You, the matchmaker, can suggest two of your friends as a potential match and send a message to get the ball rolling. Something like: Hey, Troydon, I know you and Captcha both like spending 75% of your income on avocado-adjacent appetisers, as most millennials do, so you guys might hit it off. You can also invite friends who aren't on Hinge to use it, which Hinge would naturally very much like you to do.
The overarching concept of matchmaking is as old as society itself, where parents, religious leaders, or other respected members of a group either nudge two potential partners along the path of courtship, or in more restrictive societies, arrange them explicitly. That's because old married people really don't have much else exciting going in their lives. Similarly, the idea of suggesting a promising-looking dating profile to a friend isn't new. People have long scoped each other out online, saying, Oh, OK, he's friends with Normal Dave, so odds are he is probably not a psycho. Matchmaker just elevates the subtext to the forefront, making you a centralized hub of love networking to explicitly vouchsafe for the friends in question.
Then again, dating apps, even ones with complicated algorithms for preferences and desires, may not actually work. A recent study in the journal Psychological Science found that the ability to predict a connection between two potential partners is virtually impossible. (Participants were tasked with answering 100 questions, then set up on a series of speed-dates. Researchers attempted to predict the level of attraction between them, based on their answers, and failed. Big time.) It brings to mind a question that philosophers from Aristotle (maybe) to Philip K. Dick (probably) have wrestled with for eternity: Computers can help us to fuck, but can they help us love?
People have long scoped each other out online, saying, Oh, OK, he's friends with Normal Dave, so odds are he is probably not a psycho.
Matchmaker splits the difference by leveraging algorithms with hand-crafted expertise from people who know best, like your sister or your college roommate from 10 years ago.
"We try to make our entire user experience as much like real life as possible-that's what differentiates Hinge from other dating apps," Tim MacGougan, VP of Product at Hinge, told Esquire. "Using Hinge Matchmaker allows you to see a larger pool of friends, including people you might not immediately think of, but are great fits for your close friends. It also lets you suggest the match in a low-pressure way that isn't awkward for them to pass on or approve of."
Obviously, there are a number of reasons why you might not want to surrender that power to anyone, particularly a casual Facebook acquaintance whose opinions on your dating life you are less interested in than their opinions on the 2016 election. You also might not want people knowing you're using a dating app in the first place, simply because it's no one's business. (All users will have the option to become invisible to anyone using Matchmaker.) Plus, the inexplicable popularity of PewDiePie and, well, porn, notwithstanding, watching someone else play a video game or bone-or even both at once!-tends to provide diminishing returns over time. But for now, the rest of us partnered-up people get to have skin in the game, even if it's not our actual skin.
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