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You uploaded some words about yourself, often bordering on essay length, and sat back and waited for an email.
‘Tech just allowed you to place an ad,’ says Amarnath Thombre, chief strategy officer of the Match Group.
Then, Match and the other dating websites were basically like the classified ads in the back of the paper.
There were no smart algorithms designed to pair the compatible, there was just a bigger pool to pick from.
How many amorous stirrings have wilted on the vine at the sight of the wrong Wegner or sub-standard task lighting?
If you were American, you asked each other a series of searching job-interview-style questions, including salary and frequency of gym visits, and then, conditions being satisfactory, delivered efficient oral sex. These quaint, analogue traditions that the greyer-haired Gen Xers can dimly remember are the habits of a century past.
‘And search for people based on a few basic parameters.’ If you really had a grasp of this stuff, meeting people involved a rendezvous in a wine bar with an identifying item of clothing or a red rose in a lapel.
And, as barely anyone had the technical savvy to upload a photo to the internet, there was the inevitable nail-biting wait to see if the date was a hottie or notty – and the nuisance of having to make polite conversation if they were the latter.
There was no way that Match and e Harmony, the frumpy juggernauts of internet dating, could satisfy the myriad tribes of humanity. JDate brought together Jewish singles, with profiles often written by their mothers. Farmers, dog lovers, herpes sufferers, fitness freaks – you name it, there was a dating site dedicated to it. But let’s be honest, for Generation X it was a case of needs must.We just used big data to look at what we could learn about people,’ Thombre adds.‘Today, about five per cent of all American marriages are between people who met online.’ By the early Noughties, everyone knew Real Human Beings who had met other Normal People online.Unlike the hook-up, ‘The One’ is a sweet and nice idea, and this is what e Harmony promised to find – if you paid them money and answered 400 questions.