I was recently at a fantastic Meetup event hosted by my pal Bethany, in which we professionals were trying to hone in on our message/tagline to clearly convey what we do to people we’re meeting for the first time. I myself very much need to focus on this kind of messaging, because SO many people don’t know what an “online dating consultant” is. (My old cards said “expert,” but people still got confused.) I’ve started to realize that “consultant” muddles people because it’s kind of a business-speak word, and they think I’m like a broker or a matchmaker which isn’t quite the same thing.
Anyway, smartypants Bethany had us check out Up-Goer Five, which is a language simplification exercise based on this XKCD comic. This is an ingenious tip, it really is! It seems silly, but give it a try. Explain a concept that you’re having trouble articulating and see what the tool tells you. Hilarity (and oversimplification) ensues!
I think this advice applies more broadly than people realize. I often needed to simplify my language when working in video game or tech companies, because I was the only one with the linguistic and cultural expertise to explain why a problem with a random aspect of obscure Spanish text needed to be rendered differently so our users wouldn’t be annoyed. See? I probably should’ve simplified that there sentence: case in point! :)
How this is relevant in online dating:
Usually I think it’s better if people are super-specific and DON’T use crazy common words in their dating profiles. But if you’re feeling stuck or struggling, you can paste your answer to a certain question into the Up-Goer Five tool and play around with changing the way you describe it. The output probably isn’t going to be inanely helpful, but workshopping your copy this way might help you come up with more playful and creative answers, or terms you wouldn’t think to use on your own.
Your other tactic, which is perhaps more confusing but also quite playful and fun and geeky, is to explain in your profile that you’re using Up-Goer Five, then keep your copy in simple-speak, and see if any potential dates get the reference or can decipher the simplespeak.
Here’s an example! In the “Six things I can’t live without” section, MANY daters put “iPhone.” Just putting that is a little dull. If you said you were going to use the Up-Goer Five for your answers, and you invited potential mates to guess what you were referring to and perhaps what the original text was, that would be a playful trope that could serve to start up conversation. I started with the following phrase:
My iPhone, because I love having the whole web at my fingertips!
And here’s what the answer looks like after much fiddling in Up-Goer Five:
My small computer for talking, because I love staying in touch with a whole world of stuff at the end of my hands!
See? Weird, playfully awkward, fun, and likely to invite questioning, which is exactly what you want. Your profile should spark conversations. Let me know if you end up using this tactic in your profile; I’d love to take a