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Future 2020: Dystopian Dating

Its the future of romance where an app tells you who to love and if you don't find someone with the same flaws as you you are turned into a lobster! This week, the Ghouls are talking about the dystopian future of dating to discuss the influence of dating apps versus human spontaneity and what it means to find your someone the traditional way. We watched films The Lobster, Equals and Black Mirror's Hang the DJ for inspiration.


RED: Quotes, someone else's words.

Kat's Facts - What is the future of romance/dating and love? Apps and control!

So I think it’s safe to say, many of us have done the Online dating. We’ve lived the awkward transition of the internet is scary, DO NOT MEET THAT PERSON FROM THE INTERNET THEY COULD KILL YOU, EVERYONE IS A CATFISH, to definitely invite people from the internet to meet you, find love it’s totally cool. What we’ve gotten from it though is the age of ghosting, dates on dates on dates readily accessible at the touch of a button, plenty of fish but most of them have been sitting in the sun for a few days and smell just awful. In a article by Britany Beckham, she quotes Dawoon Kang, co-founder and co-CEO of Coffee Meets Bagel who calls this the era of dating disappointment. As someone who has tried many dating apps, and websites, I'd have to agree. That ish is filled with mostly disappointment. As an introvert, the whole process was extremely exhausting. An endless small talk engine, full of ingenuine conversation, and uncomfortable, never asked for comeons. If I wasn’t copying and pasting “what I do with my life” into tinder messages, I was explaining to people why they probably shouldn’t lead with “I have a beer bottle sized penis”, or “will you sit on my face?”. So when we think of the future of online dating, I think a lot of us feel like we should either terminator 2 the whole thing, or really change it up.

After reading the Future of Online dating article, I gotta say I’m still kinda feeling the whole terminator 2 scenario, cause it’s pretty cool, but also imo pretty terrifying. Let me tell you why...So companies are trying to really bring tech into this. Similarly to how we’ve seen in the past decade, the rapid expansion of technology has made our lives easier in a lot of ways. We have an app for almost everything. We use technology in every facet of our lives, so why not use it to expedite the long and arduous process of finding love. With films like eternal sunshine of the spotless mind, wouldn’t it be easier to have just not experienced all the heartache? Tech is stepping in to grease the wheels. Some in relatively harmless ways, some in a big no from me kind of way. [Insert Gabe’s paranoia about online dating


So Kang goes on to say "People, a lot of times, don’t know what they want. They may say they want certain things, but they don’t actually want that," They have been working on Better machine-learning that could tailor your matches to your actions, rather than your stated desires. I don’t know if you’re with me, when i’m like...what?! How could you even start to go about something like that. That also could be easily taken to do things of a morally questionable nature. So the article goes on to say that:

To better select matches, smarter AI could, for example, take into account how much time you spend in the app, as well as the profiles you're looking at and for how long, the content of your chats, how you tend to swipe, how long it takes you to respond to certain messages, and whether you initiate chats. If you let this future online dating AI have free-range on your phone, it might even analyze whether you pay your bills on time, what websites you visit, the news you read, which shows you binge-watch, how much you exercise (if you have a connected Fitbit or Apple Watch), and your camera roll. Which would ultimately put a lot of us millennials into weird boxes. I don’t want to date someone who lives as messed up as me, and I also like don’t want to be judged on how well I take care of myself, as a reflection of how well I’ll take care of someone else. Arguably a person pursuing online dating, might be doing these things for the wrong reasons, to put a bandaid on a bigger problem, or whatever else. I don’t think that kind of algorithm would set people up with people who encourage them to grow or be better, if anything, you’d be getting matched with people just as messed up as you are, which might just keep you stagnant. It also makes everything very calculated, which is not what attraction is based on. If I don’t exercise that doesn't mean I can’t be attracted or romantic with someone who does. Dating someone with different interests, backgrounds, tastes, it’s all apart of the process. It goes on to say:

AI with improved photo detection could one day pinpoint interests that may not be outlined in your profile or use facial recognition to find your "type." Data collected from everyone else's matches — both successful and unsuccessful — could help improve your matches, too.


Beyond all that is AIMM, a voice-activated dating app which launched last year and has 1,000 users in Denver (it's planning to expand throughout the U.S. in coming months). An AI matchmaker, which sounds like Siri, asks you questions for a week before sending you matches. Along with those suggestions come personalized photo tours and audio snippets of your match describing their perfect date or telling an embarrassing story from childhood. There's no tapping or swiping. Once both you and your match have agreed to chat, AIMM will set up a phone call, and you decide from there if you want to meet offline. I already hate it cause I hate talking on the phone in general. That sounds so stressful.

AIMM will throw in a joke now and then as it talks to you, too, said Kevin Teman, AIMM's creator. It can also pick up on your values through subtle conversations. For example, if someone talks a lot about money, AIMM could infer that money is important to them.

"I didn't set out to build AI necessarily. I set out to build something like a human," Teman said, adding that AIMM remembers your previous answers and the tone and questions you warm up to.

For Teman, there's no end in sight to how much AIMM, and other AI, can learn. That may sound promising, but AIMM's promotional video is pretty awkward.



Gabe's Film Analysis - What is media telling us about the future of love and romance?

We’re all becoming emotionless and easily manipulated puddles conforming to whatever container we find ourselves in. The narratives are always these cautionary tales of refusing to conform to what society deems normal for dating and escaping from the clutches of technology, make your own decisions SHEEPLE!

What we see on screen with dating are these arbitrary reasons to fall in love with someone, further exacerbated by The Lobster, people look for people just like themselves. When you are filling out your online profile “seeking same” is a given. Some people take this to questionable lengths, especially in dating sites like okcupid, where you can hone your search in by education, race, height, etc. Some might argue that it further isolates society in their dating patterns, similar to the Lobster, in that people can eliminate matches outside of their own class, education, or race. The combination of that and the rush to reach that end goal, to couple and not become an outsider of “normal society” is something that can be genuinely scary to people. In American society, specifically the idea of not being able to find our “soul mate”, or “the one” is a direct attack against our individualistic freedom. It shows our fear of things being decided for us, arranged, or for some purpose that removes our personal desires completely. This fear of emotionless existence, emotionless coupling, is as scary as losing our most basic human rights. Yet in some ways we willingly do this, because of our fear that we will run out of time. We see this in media often, whether it’s a playful romantic comedy, drama, or thriller. We are terrified not only of the idea that we won’t find love, but that we won’t find love before it’s too late.

For women specifically that fear is biological, in that to make a family...aka babies, can only be done in a certain time frame. As a society we push the idea of coupling, marriage, and creating a nuclear family from birth. We are essentially programmed to want to have a family, either by society, or through evolutionary drive to continue our DNA. The trick is, that the timing of it all, directly goes against the idea of finding love. We create this media because we are scared of the direction we’ve been taking, as well as the ways in which technology can accelerate that path. The same fear we associate with rapidly expanding technology, goes into the fear of these apps. That we will lose control, and ultimately delve into a robotic way of existence. Let the machines or something else decide our future for us.

The Director of the Equals film we watched said "I think there’s something tragic about where we are headed," "It’s scary to think at a certain point, a machine is going to tell us who we should and shouldn’t be with. It’s like, whoa, that’s a little scary." Doremus said in an interview with He brings up the apps we use today. Tinder as an example, the obelisk of modern dating. "It’s out of hand!" he says. "In 10 years from now, Tinder could literally be a machine that you put your finger on and all of a sudden it’s like, 'That person!' The magnetic force of the universe doesn’t have a chance to guide you in the direction you need to be in."

Ultimately the idea is that we’ll gravitate towards people trusting 100% in an app that does not understand the spontaneity of the human heart. If the alternative is that “fate” or whatever is guiding, might be 8subverted by statistics. We are more likely to trust a statistic that says we’re 99.9% compatible with someone than our own head/heart because it’s hard ultimately to argue with something being presented to you as factual. Would you believe an app that told you they had found the person you’ve been searching for your whole life to find? There’s something safer and simpler in that than any whirlwind love affair. Society will pressure us to conform, and most sheeple will, and then further pressure anyone who lives outside that society.


Media from this week's episode:

Black Mirror: Hang the DJ (2017)

Director: Tim Van Patten Writers: Charlie Brooker

Paired up by a dating program that puts an expiration date on all relationships, Frank and Amy soon begin to question the system's logic.

Lobster (2015)

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

In a dystopian near future, single people, according to the laws of The City, are taken to The Hotel, where they are obliged to find a romantic partner in forty-five days or are transformed into beasts and sent off into The Woods.

  • What animal would you become?

  • There is no gray area - either you’re married or you’re forever alone, can’t be bisexual

  • What’s worse - living in the woods until you’re shot, becoming an animal that will be eaten or destroyed OR faking a nosebleed every once in awhile? Perfectly summarizes the dating dystopia.

Equals (2015)

Director: Drake Doremus

In an emotionless utopia, two people fall in love when they regain their feelings from a mysterious disease, causing tensions between them and their society.

  • At the Tribeca premiere of his new film, Doremus prefaced the screening with, "I'm not an intellectual filmmaker, I'm an emotional one," and asked that the audience "open your hearts."

  • What he and others are missing, though, is that Equals is a simple boy-meets-girl story; the restrictive setting mainly proves how much two people are willing to risk in order to be with each other. "I think [the setting] is a device to tell a very human story and examine where society leads us and how disconnected we are with technology,"



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