Would You Still Use it?
Ask the 100MM people who have downloaded Tinder what they are “looking for” and it is usually divided into two camps; to “hook-up” or find a “relationship.” As I approach 30 and the mounting pressures of social norms around marriage and family overpower our views around love, I have noticed that most of my friends fall into the latter camp, they are “trying to meet somebody.”
As friends around me have swiped over the last three months, almost unanimously claiming they are seeking a boyfriend or girlfriend, I wondered what a world would look like if Tinder could fully “solve” the Twenty-first-century “love” problem. So, I decided to ask people: “What if Tinder’s algorithm got so powerful that the next time you open the app it would offer you a single match – your “soulmate?” Would you open this app? Would it make the world a better place?”
To clarify, this imaginary algorithm is so powerful it can literally read your “soul,” matching you with the “optimal” person, defined as the intimate relationship that would maximize your life fulfillment and happiness. I am not saying there is only one person in the world that can make you fulfilled/happy, but this would create the “optimal” relationship rounded to the infinite decimal place. After all, on the surface, this is what virtually everyone I spoke to is claiming to be looking for, a relationship and happiness.
For most people the initial reaction to this world is an adamant no, often times claiming an app like this would “ruin society.” I observed people scared by the thought of an artificial intelligence computer program understanding their deepest feelings and determining their future in such a formulaic manner. I observed people who were scared to even continue the conversation. The defense mechanisms started with people attacking the plausibility of the question or whether or not they believe in a the concept of a “soul-mate.” Eventually the arguments evolved into more sophisticated views around enjoying the “journey,” problems around a constantly changing version of self and learning about personal “wants/needs” in a relationship. However, in theory, any algorithm optimizing for life fulfillment would naturally solve for the future and fit you with the best person that “matches your wants/needs” and who you are best fit to grow with.
I was quite confused. How could the people I spoke with all want happiness / fulfillment (a partner often was thought to be a part of happiness), but when the new Tinder algorithm offered that guarantee, most were adamantly against it? This said,, I was able to sympathize with these friends in that I intuitively felt like something was amiss with AI Tinder as well. I just couldn’t logically explain it.
I began asking those naysayers, what if the process of finding your “soulmate” has nothing to do with finding what you want in another person / what you think you “need” / the “non-negotiables” AND everything to do with finding “yourself.” It is a subtle difference on the surface, but means all the difference when searching for “love.” After understanding this difference most people agreed they are afraid of a world where an application reveals the optimal answer to them because they actually might NOT be seeking the “right” answer. They subconsciously want to reveal themselves to themselves. It almost seems like discovering your “soulmate” is functioning as one of the world’s best platforms to understanding “yourself.” And to be clear, by “yourself” I don’t mean your “needs and wants” or even what makes you happy, but understanding what you believe in, what motivates you, how you perceive the world.
I am still not sure if this takeaway is true, but it seems plausible and all the people I spoke to about it have agreed with the premise. So, next time you contemplate the “journey of love” realize it might be masquerading as a journey of self-discovery and finding your “soulmate / love” might be the amazing outcome of that journey around self. Now, what if an app could solve that problem?
Previously published on LinkedIn