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In the meantime, my very large Jewish family was already all married and well on their way to having lots and lots of children, and I felt like I was under tremendous peer pressure to get my life going already.
So I have two possible strategies at this point I'm sort of figuring out.
And if I want to start having children by the time I'm 35, that meant that I would have had to have been on my way to marriage five years ago. If my strategy was to least-expect my way into true love, then the variable that I had to deal with was serendipity.
In short, I was trying to figure out what's the probability of my finding Mr. Well, at the time I was living in the city of Philadelphia, and it's a big city, and I figured, in this entire place, there are lots of possibilities. Population of Philadelphia: it has 1.5 million people.
So in my case, I thought, well, will data and an algorithm lead me to my Prince Charming? When I was asked about fun activities and my ideal date, I said monetization and fluency in Japanese. So obviously this was not the best way to put my most sexy foot forward. The algorithm matched us up because we share a love of gadgets, we share a love of math and data and '80s music, and so I agreed to go out with him. And we went in, and right off the bat, our conversation really wasn't taking flight, but he was ordering a lot of food. I'm going to shove it into my bag, I'm going to have this email template, and I'm going to fill it out and collect information on all these different data points during the date to prove to everybody that empirically, these dates really are terrible.
Now, I like the idea of online dating, because it's predicated on an algorithm, and that's really just a simple way of saying I've got a problem, I'm going to use some data, run it through a system and get to a solution. I turned to my grandmother, who always had plenty of advice, and she said, "Stop being so picky. And most importantly, true love will find you when you least expect it." Now as it turns out, I'm somebody who thinks a lot about data, as you'll soon find.So I'm at the end of this bad breakup, I'm 30 years old, I figure I'm probably going to have to date somebody for about six months before I'm ready to get monogamous and before we can sort of cohabitate, and we have to do that for a while before we can get engaged.These algorithms had a sea full of men that wanted to take me out on lots of dates — what turned out to be truly awful dates. He was ordering multiple appetizers, multiple entrées, for me as well, and suddenly there are piles and piles of food on our table, also lots and lots of bottles of wine. These algorithms were doing exactly what they were designed to do, which was to take our user-generated information, in my case, my résumé, and match it up with other people's information. So there's a certain amount of superficiality in that data. I'm going to keep using these online dating sites, but I'm going to treat them as databases, and rather than waiting for an algorithm to set me up, I think I'm going to try reverse-engineering this entire system.So we're nearing the end of our conversation and the end of dinner, and I've decided Steve the I. guy and I are really just not meant for each other, but we'll part ways as friends, when he gets up to go to the bathroom, and in the meantime, the bill comes to our table. See, the real problem here is that, while the algorithms work just fine, you and I don't, when confronted with blank windows where we're supposed to input our information online. So knowing that there was superficial data that was being used to match me up with other people, I decided instead to ask my own questions.