I sat on a stool at the centre of the bar, ordered a beer, and refreshed the feeds on my mobile. A basketball game played on several monitors at once. I allowed myself a moment’s longing for my living room and its couch.Then I pretended to watch the game on a monitor that allowed me to look the other way. I refreshed the feed that indicated whether other people in the neighbourhood were sitting alone in bars. An OK Cupid Locals invitation has to start with the word ‘Let’s’:‘Let’s go now you and I’ always comes into my mind, but I’ve never broadcast an OK Cupid chat signal, I just respond. Every era has its own utopian possibilities: ours is the chance to make our lives more bearable through technology.Niche dating sites have proliferated, new technology has made new ways of meeting people possible and new gimmicks hit the market every day, but as I knew from my own experience, the fundamental characteristics of the online dating profile have remained static.
I joined OK Cupid at the age of 30, in late November 2011, with the pseudonym ‘viewfromspace’.
When the time came to write the ‘About’ section of my profile, I quoted Didion’s passage, then added: ‘But now we have internet dating. ’ The Didion bit sounded unpleasant, so I replaced it with a more optimistic statement, about internet dating restoring the city’s possibilities to a life that had become stagnant between work, subway and apartment.
In 1992, he was a 29-year-old computer scientist and one of the many graduates of Stanford Business School running software companies in the Bay Area. In 1992, that couldn’t be done – modems transmitted information too slowly.
One afternoon a routine email with a purchase order attached to it arrived in his inbox. At the time, emails from women in his line of work were exceedingly rare. Then there was the scarcity of women with online access.
Like many visionary entrepreneurs, Kremen doesn’t have very good management skills.
His life has passed through periods of grave disarray.
In her essay about leaving New York Joan Didion tells a man she’ll take him to a party where he might meet some ‘new faces’, and he laughs at her.
‘It seemed that the last time he had gone to a party where he had been promised “new faces”, there had been 15 people in the room, and he had already slept with five of the women and owed money to all but two of the men.’ Didion doesn’t say, but I’ve always assumed her friend went to the party anyway.
In more administrative fields, however, a growing number of women had email. He left his job, hired some programmers with his credit card, and created an email-based dating service.
Subscribers were given anonymous addresses from which to send out their profiles with a photo attached.
By 1994 modems had got faster, so Kremen moved to take his company online.