Conveyor Belt Dating


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By James Roberts

The Male Call Advisory Board has been attending a lot of MeetUps – you know…where you go to broaden your network of friends and relationships but run into the same people and have pointless conversations about the weather and half the registrants play hooky…just like high school.

At least the women at these functions aren’t running around like 20-something Club Girls taking pictures of themselves in coy poses and texting their friends incessantly. Not all of them anyway.

We were struck by the vast array of folks, all apparently looking for the same thing – fun, repartee, romance, a non-axe murderer – but few of them finding it, try as they might.

A Male Call correspondent calls it “conveyor belt dating.” Lots and lots of choices coming down the line; be it a MeetUp or an Internet dating site, but none of them just right.

The problem, though, is that more choices doesn’t necessarily equate to good choices.

As James Surowiecki notes in The Wisdom of Crowds, the concept of superior numbers only works when there is sufficient diversity. Having 20 nearly identical toothpastes to choose from in a supermarket doesn’t actually give you much choice.

In order to get a true diversity of prospects you need big numbers. How big? Real big.

Much as we dislike dealing in actual non-made-up facts, we were curious about how much choice there really is in, say, Maricopa County.

With a county population of about 3.8 million, 34 percent, or 1.3 million are single and over 20, roughly half male and half female. (Note our restraint in avoiding a cheap joke here). Anyway, that’s about 650,000 single males and 650,000 females.

That seems like a lot of choices, whether you like your mate with extra gingivitis protection or just plain fluoride.

We thought it might be useful to review the kinds of choices a person has:

  • Hobson’s Choice – seems like a choice but it’s really “take it or leave it”
  • Morton’s Fork – choice between two equally bad possibilities
  • Occam’s Razor – the simpler explanation of two choices is usually the better
  • Sophie’s Choice – choice between two persons or things that will result in the death or destruction of the person not chosen (seems rather harsh)
  • Buridan’s Ass – being paralyzed between two equal choices (supposedly based on a donkey that is equidistant from two bales of hay and starves because he can’t pick one)

Hmm, not really very helpful, eh?

Maybe we should just do it Old School: hire a Hindu astrologer, Jewish shadchan, Chinese “old man of the moonlight,” or send the women to a Saudi marriage feast where the assembled mothers pick out future wives for their sons.

For those more practically inclined, we could just pile everyone on a conveyor belt and set our Windows 8 computers to jolt it to a stop at random intervals – whoever falls off is your new mate.

At least we’d be getting some practical use out of Windows 8.


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