While the Internet Drives Us Apart, the Blockchain Brings Us Together Again
Digital social platforms are getting a lot of bad press lately. Whether it’s Russia’s use of Facebook as a tool for emotional manipulation or The New York Times’ lengthy expose on Google’s damaging effect on innovation, the social internet has seen better days.
Last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg proclaimed, “Right now, I think the most important thing we can do is bring people closer together.” It was an inspiring statement, but in reality, his behemoth of a digital platform proved to be more divisive than unifying.
There is evidence of this happening all over the internet. Fragmented social lives became toxic in a modern culture jostled by conflicts of every size and degree. NPR, reporting on an American Journal of Preventive Medicine study on the impact of social media, observes, “People who reported spending the most time on social media…had twice the odds of perceived social isolation than those who said they spent a half hour per day on those sites.”
However, one sector of the social internet actually is, to a certain degree, bringing people together. Although they’ve been around since the mid-nineties, online dating platforms are having a “moment.” Tired of the limited dating options and imprecise science of asking a coworker out on a date, people turned to online dating websites as a data-driven, low stakes opportunity to expand the dating pool.
After launching in 1995, Match.com provided the first platform for these digital exchanges. Today, they are an absolute juggernaut. This year, users will send more than 50 million messages on the platform’s messaging service, and they expect double-digit growth again this year.
What’s more, Match.com is joined by a smattering of online dating sites that cater to every whim, eccentricity, and value point that a single person could consider.
The Problem of Abundance
Online dating platforms undoubtedly attracted a significant audience to their services. Unfortunately, in many ways, they have also created a vast crowd of eager daters in an inefficient and ineffective ecosystem.
For example, on Match.com, only 2% of those 50 million messages receive a response. This is an exorbitant signal to noise ratio that doesn’t facilitate connections and does encourage annoyance. In fact, an unnerving number of women report feeling harassed in this environment.
The current online dating scene is good at congregating a crowd, but it’s not as effective at actually dividing that crowd into couples. The same Pew Research study found that 1/3 of people using online dating sites have never actually been on a date with someone they met on the site.
A New Economy
Match.com and other online dating platforms built an engaging and popular service, and the blockchain is ready to bring its potential to fulfillment.
The blockchain is most popular for its handling of prominent cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, but its use cases are far more prolific than just that. Every day, new applications are built upon the blockchain’s decentralized network, and they imbue a unique set of features and abilities that can improve upon existing platforms.
Ponder, a decentralized dating site hosted on the Ethereum network is poised to make those improvements to the dating scene. As a technology company, Ponder naturally values and believes in the power of technology to be a transformative force for good. However, their platform doesn’t rely exclusively on computer algorithms to establish meaningful connections.
Instead, Ponder creates a dynamic ecosystem in which match-makers can use their real-world connections to introduce prospective couples. It brings together all the benefits of algorithmic computing with the real-world connections that we continuously make.
For instance, a match-maker might use the Ponder app to introduce a friend to someone living in his apartment building. If the match is a good fit, Ponder compensates the match-maker with $10. If the match is a really successful and the couple gets married, Ponder will pay the match-maker with $1,000.
Of course, building a dating service on the blockchain does more than incentivizing the dating process. There are obvious privacy and security benefits that stem from the blockchain’s decentralized ethos. However, in our increasingly technologically-connected but socially isolated culture, its most important contribution is its ability to not only get people together but to bring people together as well. Those looking for a dating relationship can use Ponder knowing that the best technology and the best opinions of their friends and family are all at work to help them make the perfect connection.