online dating can blunt the emotional pain of separation, if adults can afford
to be increasingly demanding about what they want from a relationship, the
effect of online dating seems positive. But what if it’s also the case that the
prospect of finding an ever more compatible mate with the click of a mouse
means a future of relationship instability, a paradox of choice that keeps us
chasing the illusive bunny around the dating track?
It’s the mother of all
search problems: how to find a spouse, a mate, a date. The escalating marriage
age and declining marriage rate mean we’re spending a greater portion of our
lives unattached, searching for love well into our thirties and forties.
So it’s no wonder that a
third of America’s 90 million singles are turning to dating websites. Once
considered the realm of the lonely and desperate, sites like eHarmony, Match,
OkCupid, and Plenty of Fish have been embraced by pretty much every
demographic. Thanks to the increasingly efficient algorithms that power these
sites, dating has been transformed from a daunting transaction based on
scarcity to one in which the possibilities are almost endless. Now
anyone—young, old, straight, gay, and even married—can search for exactly what
they want, connect with more people, and get more information about those
people than ever before.
As journalist Dan Slater
shows, online dating is changing society in more profound ways than we imagine.
He explores how these new technologies, by altering our perception of what’s
possible, are reconditioning our feelings about commitment and challenging the
traditional paradigm of adult life.
psychology, and interviews with site creators and users, Slater takes readers
behind the scenes of a fascinating business. Dating sites capitalize on our
quest for love, but how do their creators’ ideas about profits, morality, and
the nature of desire shape the virtual worlds they’ve created for us? Should we
trust an industry whose revenue model benefits from our avoiding monogamy? Love
in the Time of Algorithms offers a lively, entertaining, and thought
provoking account of how we have, for better and worse, embraced technology in
the most intimate aspect of our lives.
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