Statistics, Tinder, and Love

I was once told many years ago that no two people in the world are greater than 7 degrees of separation apart. Nowadays, I’d say that that number is quite an overestimate.

The past ten years of technological growth has without a doubt had a common theme: connectivity. This notion that everyone in the world is connected by some kind of social platform has become a sneaky, subtle reality. By far the most intriguing consequence of convenient connectivity, in my opinion, is the expanded–never faltering–human desire to find love.

With the new era of online dating hitting full stride, the opportunities for finding love have expanded far beyond what is capable from the traditional face to face, meet and greet strategy. Can we even call it online dating now? Behind the Tinder juggernaut is an army of boner-busting app developers with the admirable goal of reducing the average number of wet dreams occurring on a day to day basis–and you bet it’s working. Tinder is the first successful online “dating” platform to bypass the stifling shame that comes with using traditional match websites likes and eHarmony. Let’s be honest, every guy on eHarmony is a fucking pedophile burnout that want’s to dress you up in a Mickey Mouse costume and chase you around a fire pit.

Now, what is the actual impact of Tinder and other social media based matching apps on our communities as we know it? In the following model, I’ve simulated a random selection of 70 people, a hypothetically representative sample of everyone in the world. The following chart is a histogram of my compatibility with these 70 people, with 10 being the most compatible, and 1 being the least compatible.

Compatibility histogram

What is the significance of this?

Compatibility, like all other things in life, is a game of statistics. It’s a fucking spectrum. Sure, there are things you can control to increase your shot at finding 9’s and 10’s (i.e. being a tall, white guy with money), but the numbers game generally prevails. Traditionally (B.C. Tinder), men and women would find their first 9 or 10, call it their one and only “true love”, and get married. This strategy used to work very well; because based on statistics, the chance of meeting another 9 or 10 is very low. Once you get that first 9, put a ring on it and hit that shit ’till the sun ain’t lit. But with new age connectivity, our sample population has the potential to multiply by billions and even millions! All of a sudden, 9’s and 10’s aren’t as rare anymore. In fact, we’re even starting to get picky for 9.5’s, 9.7’s, and 9.8’s. (If you get a 9.8, lock that shit up A$AP)

So let me ask you this: with a global population of over 7 billion, how can you ever be sure that your “one true love” is actually the one? She might be a 9.6, but surely if you tried hard enough you might be able to find a 9.7 right? So it’s surely possible that the unshakeable love held by many older couples may actually be more about the low probability of finding a better match, than their actual compatibility. Fucking depressing, I know–but we are seeing divorce rates higher than ever before. Kind of makes sense.

There’s really two ways to view this conundrum. On one hand, perhaps expanding our search for love to a greater field is the best thing; after all, we do want the best possible match. On another hand, there’s the idea that you can never be satisfied, knowing that there’s someone out there that’s even better than the one you have. This thought can be poisonous knowing you have the power to find that person in your cell phone or tablet. Either way you look at it, the way technological connectivity impacts our human desire to find love is undeniable and seemingly unavoidable. Good luck.