One of the stories in the most recent SkaDate Dating Software Online Dating Roundup sparked my interest more than the others. Sure, the Illinois bill is kinda important, and I am all too happy to read about our industry churning out billions in revenue. But these things are still expected. Just like Ashton Kutcher making a fool of himself and offending everyone around. No, I’m taking about the story I’d like to call ‘The Jane Austen Defense’.
You see, on the surface, it’s all harmless fun. Someone somewhere criticized online dating labeling it a crass marketplace. This was countered with a “revelation”, that mating methods have come under fire before. For instance, similar comparisons have been drawn with “assembly” ball courtships encountered in Jane Austen novels.
But wait. All of that doesn’t matter. Online dating, just like “assembly balls,” does not need this defense. Correction: should not need to be defended at all.
In the end of the day, talks about matchmaking algorithms failing, sites populated by Nigerian scammers, and these latest demeaning allegories, all seemingly have one goal. To present online dating as some kind of evil fraudulent machine, tricking millions into paying for their fruitless pursuits of a happy relationship. You might think someone has an agenda, going by the regularity of these stories resurfacing every single month.
But the right question here is whether these stories really affect the industry. Because quite clearly they don’t. Online dating is now worth billions, and it slowly working towards improving general Internet safety, remember? By this point, it’s a huge part of our everyday life, and one of the giants moving the overall online development forward.
The bigger the industry becomes the easier it is to attack too, no matter how ridiculous the accusations sound. Think Microsoft, Facebook, Hollywood, Gaming Industry, Major Sports, etc. At any given time you can expect someone taking shots at big targets.
The same with online dating. Virtually everyone has tried it by now, so these stories are nothing but headline fodder, since we all know how it really works. We can’t expect a news agency to cover every single successful relationship born online. These things are all too common now, and by extension are hard to sell.
But slap it with a comparison to a crass marketplace, and suddenly millions of people around the world feel like they have been objectified, and now need to defend themselves with historic and literary examples. That’s how it always is.
And here is the big twist: people don’t seriously believe scammers will drop dead or scientists will stop questioning mechanics of patented designs in the absence of online dating. Really, Ashton Kutcher will find a new media to spoof and offend people, while Jane Austen Defense will be used to advocate… well, everything. Because as anyone who’s ever read her novels knows all too well, she was a pro when it comes to teaching us about the true workings of society.
So yes, we do have to thank Jane Austen, but not because she was criticized for writing about her observations that mirror present-day sensibilities. But because she taught us to keep an open mind and handle everything with an appropriate realism and critical thinking.