When you run an online dating platform, you get to learn all sorts of things about people. Some nice things and some ... less nice things.
Meet Christian Rudder.
He's the co-founder of OkCupid. It's a huge dating site. He's learned all kinds of crazy stuff about who we are when we think no one is looking.
People in general conform to stereotype far more than you would think. "It's like a 'Saturday Night Live' sketch," Christian says. Common phrases that white guys use to describe themselves include "hunting," "fishing," and "blond hair." The #1 phrase for Asian guys? "Tall for an Asian."
Some of it is, honestly, depressing.
He's examined over 30 million people's dating profiles, and he's learned all kinds of things.
How many people have sex on the first date, for example (54%). How many believe in the death penalty (39%). That sort of thing.
And then, more disturbing facts.
Like these two charts:
You read that right.
Women are looking for guys around their age. And guys are looking for nubile co-eds.
That just doesn't add up.
As for race, it turns out that black users get about 25% fewer interactions on the site than other people.
The crazy part is that he hasn't given up on all of us yet.
If Christian can look at line after line of eye-blurring, stereotype-confirming, sometimes racist, sometimes desperate data and see individual humans, each on their own journey, then surely the rest of us can, too.
Seeing ourselves in aggregate can be a wake-up call. It's a chance to question whether we're doing something we believe in or acting out of social conditioning and habit.
I never thought I'd say this, but maybe a dating site — or at least its data — can make us all a little bit better.