Dating, Apps, and Communication on the Interwebs

Online dating is shitty. If you haven’t tried it, believe me. It’s full of spam, half assed responses, and rude behavior. The stakes are really low, and it’s easy to forget that there is an actual person on the other side of that screen. I have yet to have a friend tell me that they enjoy swiping right. Girls hate it because they get bombarded with offensive and condescending messages. Guys hate it because most of their messages don’t get responded to. (Could the two be related at all?)

Despite the drawbacks, it isn’t going anywhere. Millennials are a busy generation, and we’re not settling down like previous generations did. We’ll keep using apps to meet each other because it’s easy.

But in the age of snapchat and periscope I have to think there is a better way to create connections.

What if we got rid of texting? And while we’re at it we should get rid of pictures too. What if online dating relied only on video clips? I tend to think that with the constraint of video we might remove some of the jackassery that has emerged in our current online dating scene.

Now you might be thinking video seems weird. Why would you want to film a short burst video and send it to a stranger? But we do it with Periscope. And Snapchat isn’t that far off from being open. Plus there is a trend in corporate recruiting to use video as a screening tool.

When I applied to be part of Seth Godin’s internship I had to record a video explaining why I was the right fit for the program. Of the 15,000 people who applied less than half actually did the video (and qualified for the spot). Seth told me that these videos were a great filtering device and enabled him to know in a few seconds if someone was the right fit. Other innovators like Union Square Ventures now use videos as the primary screening tool for new hires. Video is a remarkable tool for getting to know someone without meeting in person.

Imagine this, when you’re looking at profiles you see a 30 second clip of someone introducing themselves. That video will tell you so much about their personality, their demeanor, their vibe. You’ll know if it’s worth meeting them. And if it is you swipe right. When you match you can record a short video to say hi. And you two can have a real conversation. If it goes well with one click you can exchange phone numbers, and coordinate to meet up.

The first time you meet in person won’t be the first time you’ve had a conversation. (Anyone who has worked with remote team mates over hangouts or Skype knows that when you finally meet in person it’s like catching up with an old friend) The first in person date might actually be enjoyable.

I put together some rough mockups to illustrate the user flow.

Some quick wires I threw together

This wouldn’t be hard for someone to build. Ziggeo has a great API and some sample code that explores this topic already. So, if you’re an engineer with some time on your hands can you help make online dating less shitty? Video might just be what online dating needs to make real connections.

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