My favorite sentence from that article: On the other hand, back in the days of dating, women entering college in the 1950s reported an average of about 12 dates per month (three per week) with five different men.These women were grossly outnumbered in college, and most women didn't go to college, so it wasn't a system for the whole society.And then we could look at how that trend fits in with the larger questions we face.
So online dating may be affecting a fair number of Jacobs and their partners, but it hasn't remade all of our relationships yet.
Articles like this, however, increase the pressure on people to consider—and reconsider—their choices.
A few years ago I reported on an amazing analysis of message patterns by the dating site Ok Cupid.
It showed that black women got the lowest response rates to their messages on the site.
The same happens with articles about parenting, or biological clocks, or cohabitation—all the family decisions for which choices appear to be multiplying.
And it may be true that people are less content when they have more choices—but I bet it's also true that the effect is magnified when the extent of their choices is hyped and rehyped, and evaluated by competing experts.But it tells us something about efficiency: Since dating reliably ended in marriage within a few years, it was pretty efficient, but that's because of the attitude and expectations, not the technology.For people who are intent on being choosy, online dating might be more efficient than meeting people in person, but people in urban areas have been finding alternative partners for a long time.If this system is efficient at finding perfect matches, it is also efficient at sorting people according to existing social hierarchies—applying what Alexis Madrigal in The Atlantic called "algorithmic perversity." Some people will use online dating to constantly trade up—maybe ditch a sick or unemployed spouse—and that will also speed up other processes, like the widening of social inequality.Reflexive responses There's no reason not to overhype a trend.Plenty of the people who spend all day online are interacting with real people less than they used to.