The fact that the annual Safer Internet Day runs in the same week as Valentine’s Day starkly reveals that not everyone is keen on sharing happiness and love. Its figures reveal that one in four teenagers have experienced some sort of hate abuse online.
While the internet now plays a crucial role for young people, in particular, to socialise online, a sad consequence is that it has also made it easier for bullies to target individuals and groups. It’s some consolation that the same survey found that nine out of ten of the survey group had also found that their friends had posted positive or supportive content online.
When it comes to meeting people online, the risks can be even greater. In acknowledgment of this fact in 2013 the online dating industry, whose members include Match.com and eHarmony, created the Online Dating Association in a bid to make online dating more open, honest and safe.
However anecdotal evidence suggests that some potential internet daters are still put off using the service as they are worried about who they will end up meeting, they are nervous or the potential awkwardness of being stuck alone with a stranger with whom they may have nothing in common – no matter what the online dating site’s algorithm claims.
One possible solution has come in the form of an app called Double, which its creators hope will overcome some of these problems. The app works by inviting singletons to pair up with a friend and then look at potential other pairs to go out with on a double date. Its creators claim it will combat the taboos of internet dating, the awkwardness of the actual dates and create a safer way of meeting people online.
With branding and UI similar to Tinder, the app has already received the backing of an investor from Dragons’ Den, with Nick Jenkins sinking £75,000 into it and its appeal. In some ways it is similar to Channel 4’s First Dates, which features couples in a controlled environment – a ‘safe space’ without pressures that might otherwise be present.
However with multiple dynamics – it works on the assumption that four people will be interested in each other – there are some questions over how practical it will be. Will it bring couples together? Or push friendships apart? Equally, what happens if both of you like the same person?
Moreover it also comes down to the fundamentals of allowing an algorithm to control our future happiness, and surely that is at the root of the human condition? While they act as a useful aid for some people to meet others, as The Kernel recently pointed out “the ultimate algorithmic dating website would know so much about each individual that it would be unbeatable.” And if that was the case wouldn’t that remove some of the serendipity and the frisson of excitement about playing the dating game?
According to Mintel the internet dating market is currently valued in excess of £170 million and is predicted to grow to £225 million by 2019 so the stakes are high for any new entrants. While Double offers a new approach for those looking for a partner, it’s likely that we’ll see more innovation as the market grows that takes account both of an algorithm and each person’s individual personality.