Soulmates for Sale


I had no idea God could be used as a spokesperson.

by Cherri Ellis

You will have to forgive God for all the inclement weather lately.  He has been busy running an online dating service.

It’s true.  According to the commercial I just watched, you just log on, join and find God’s match for you.  It’s easy, and it’s free!  But don’t wait, because as the commercial explains, “Sometimes we wait for God to make the next move when God is saying, ‘It’s your time to act.’  The next move is yours.  Act now.”  Not just a call to action, folks, but a call to action from GOD.

I had no idea I could use God as a spokesperson.  I produce commercials all the time, and I am not allowed to speak on behalf of Nick Saban or Miley Cyrus or I will be sued, and they are not nearly as famous as God.  If I started a dating service and advertised that you could join and find Ryan Seacrest’s match for you, the lawyers would come out of the woodwork.

I was so fascinated by the promise being made that I logged on.

The first thing you have to do is say whether you are a woman seeking a man or a man seeking a woman.  There is no drop- down option for same-sex couples.  The next information needed is your height, hair and eye color, and body type.  Amongst the body type options you can choose is “Washboard.”  (The Lord loves liars, too.)  When you are done describing yourself physically, the site wants to know your income level.  Really?  God doesn’t want to know which charities you work with before he asks how much money you make?   Seems odd.

The next question is what church you were raised in, and Jewish, Mormon and Muslim aren’t given as options.  This seems like a mistake, because people don’t always grow into what they were raised as.  This doesn’t allow for converts, and nobody has zeal for their cause like a convert.   It’s tough to match the enthusiasm of an ex-smoker, fledgling vegetarian or the newly faithed.

Interestingly enough, the questions on this site are not really any different from the questions on other dating sites, be they services based on religious preference or any of the other niche dating sites.

And business, my hungry little seekers of love, is booming.  In the past five years, the online industry more than doubled its revenue, going from $900 million to $1.9 billion annually.  How is that possible when the sites frequently advertise that you can join for free?  Let’s follow the money.

True to their advertising, many sites you can indeed join for free, but after a trial period, if you want to see photographs or send anyone a message, you need to pony up.  If there is no fee to join, the site makes its revenue selling advertising or offering advanced services.  The advanced services can be anything from removing the ads from your search to bumping your profile up to the top of search lists, giving you (pardon the phrasing) a little more bang for your buck.

As to how you are matched with potential suitors, the methods vary.  Match.com uses the classic Myers-Briggs personality test, which is still wildly popular although it was first published in 1962 when a web search meant you were looking for a spider.  Other sites use a combination of factors, such as age, gender, location and appearance. Statistically, men lie about their height and income, and women lie about their weight.

The difference in niche dating and basic online dating is that the consumer’s biggest preference is knocked out of the way right after he or she types in www.  This allows you to narrow the field before playing it.  The criteria extends far past religious preferences and ethnicity. There are sites for pet lovers, weed smokers, farmers, people behind bars, equestrians, tall people and Star Trek fans.

There are many sites that start with the word Christian, but the second word is never “dating” because the domain “Christiandating.com” is currently for sale for half a million dollars through a professional domain broker company.   Someone was thinking ahead!

Okcupid is an online enterprise boasting 30 niche dating sites, and it was just purchased by Match.com for a cool $50 million.  Half of their members were recently sent this exact email:

“We are very pleased to report that you are in the top half of OkCupid’s most attractive users. The scales recently tipped in your favor, and we thought you’d like to know…Your new elite status comes with one important privilege:

You will now see more attractive people in your match results.

This new status won’t affect your actual match percentages, which are still based purely on your answers and desired match’s answers. But the people we recommend will be more attractive. Also you’ll be shown to more attractive people in their match results!  And, no — not all members received this email.  Ask an ugly friend and see.”

This means the profile pictures of the other 50 percent will not be shown to the users deemed more attractive.  OUCH!

Don’t feel like putting on mascara or low on funds?  No problem! Virtual dating is touted as a fun and safe way for singles to start a real-life relationship by getting to know each other in a virtual cafe or bar. Simply create an avatar for yourself and get out there!

I know someone somewhere will one day tell their grandchildren that Mawmaw met Pawpaw in a virtual juice bar.  They both typed in LOL, and their avatars laughed, and the rest is history.   Now who wants ice cream?

I’m in favor of it all.  Whatever works for you and brings you to the arms of your partner is fine by me.  Meeting people though work can be tricky, and not everyone likes hanging late in bars.  New technology will continue to morph social norms.  It’s just a matter of time before you can send your hologram out to date for you.  Till then, buyer beware.

Now I need to go buy a riding lawn mower.  I just wish someone would tell me which one God has intended for me.

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