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They’ve “given rise to a pick-and-choose shopping behavior that prioritizes looks more than ever before.” In reality, how someone looks in a couple of pictures is no indicator of whether you’ll be attracted to them.That point was driven home for me during a small publicity stunt Ok Cupid ran to promote a blind dating app; we called it Love Is Blind Day.It’s very deliberate — after all, you’re looking for a partner through an interface — and that creates a safer environment. This premise is so well-worn that sites like Tinder, Hinge and Coffee Meets Bagel offer little information about users beyond a collection of pictures and a two-line profile.“Online services enable a downright Seinfeld-ian level of superficial nitpickiness,” one Fortune article lamented.As the head of Ok Cupid, I worked diligently to untangle many of the misconceptions about finding love on the Internet. That’s why the Daily Mail calls straight women over 45 the “plankton generation” — at the bottom of the romantic food chain.Time magazine editors found the notion of men dating women in their 30s so baffling that they invited 15 experts to explain the phenomenon.Ok Cupid creates something like 30,000 first dates every day, and complaints about dangerous meetings are extremely rare.I remember only a handful in my 12 years at the company.
Gwendolyn Seidman, writing in Psychology Today, explains it well: “Online daters realize that while, on the one hand, they want to make the best possible impression in their profile, on the other hand, if they do want to pursue an offline relationship, they can’t begin it with outright falsehoods that will quickly be revealed for what they are.” That’s not to say every profile is the gospel truth, of course. Ok Cupid has found, for example, that men and women more or less uniformly add two inches to their height.But as I learned at Ok Cupid, men don’t necessarily end up dating young women, even if they think they’re gorgeous.Men on the site tend to message women closer to their own age; very few men over 30 actually reach out to 20-year-old women.The premise was simple: For a day, we removed all the profile pictures on the site.Users howled — site traffic dropped more than 80 percent that day.