Wired’s online dating infographics

Last week Wired came out with a pseudo-article entitled  How to Create the Perfect Online Dating Profile, in 25 Infographics. Today, Amanda Hess came out with a great follow-up article identifying that many of the Wired tips involved breaking out of more traditional gender stereotypes. Amanda’s not wrong, in the sense that Wired’s data does often highlight gender non-conformity. But I really, really don’t want to see a bunch of gals lazily add “The Matrix” and a bunch of guys lazily add “crafting” just because Wired said this would work.

I had been putting off writing my usual analysis and takeaway about Wired’s weird thing, because I had trouble getting to the root of what was frustrating me about it. However, I’m foolish not to weigh in when so many press outlets are abuzz about it! Amanda’s piece finally identified a core thesis that helped me form a counterpoint. Yay! Here was my comment on her Slate piece (emphasis mine; do I even need to say that when it’s my own quote? What a narcissist):

I urge singles not to take this Wired infographathon as prescriptive or scientific advice. Just because certain profiles were “rated” higher based on gender non-conforming terms doesn’t mean that the users behind those profiles were more successful at finding happy relationships. As an online dating coach, I dislike metrics that measure “ranking” and such because it’s waaaay too reductive.

The more general advice you can pull from this piece is that being specific is a good strategy, as is mentioning interests that a decade ago might seem “uncool” to mention in the dating world. If you genuinely prefer staying home and re-watching The Matrix to going out to a bar with friends, that’s good data to put out there so that you attract people who share some aspect of both media taste and lifestyle. If you genuinely like crafting and making things, that’s good data to put out there so you appeal to gals who genuinely appreciate handmade birthday gifts over, say, Wall Street salary-earned stuff.

It’s less about looking at a bunch of infographics and keyword-optimizing your OKC profile to match that; it’s more about getting in touch with what you actually enjoy and finding a way to articulate those interests. This is what I do for a living—the most base strategy I give to people who can’t afford to hire me is this: get tipsy and fill it all out as if you were having a conversation with an imaginary person. Good luck! Call me if you get stuck, haha.

This particular image is my favorite infographic, though it gives better info than it does graphic IMO. The takeaway is not that you should start watching Homeland, although you should, if you like that sort of show. The takeaway is that you list the media you deeply enjoy intellectually and emotionally, not the stuff you watch as brainless mind candy. A future partner doesn’t want to know about your solo The Price is Right binge-watching fests; they want to know what choosing a date movie will be like. If you’re *serious* about watching The Price Is Right, go ahead and say so (along with a brief but charming anecdote about why you’re drawn to it).

In summary, don’t assume Wired has handed you a list of useful terms to “hack” into your profile. Blah. Instead, use Wired’s infographics as a jumping-off point for figuring out how you can identify and share the specific things you enjoy but hadn’t previously considered putting into your online dating profile. THAT’s the takeaway. Thanks for helping me see it, Amanda!

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