Does OkCupid really reflect how we date?

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OkCupidI have a friend who likes to share her head-scratching OkCupid messages. Some of them are weird, some are gross or sad, but most of them are just hilarious. She shares them because she wants to prove a point – that online dating really sucks. That people are strange, especially the L.A. dating population.

I don’t agree with her, but OkCupid users can get a little ridiculous. I chalk it up to the fact that it’s a free site and many people (like with Tinder) are just on it to f*** around and see what they can get away with. Literally and figuratively, I guess. So, who knows how much of what they write is true, or even vaguely representative of how they feel or what they look for in real life?

Still OkCupid seems to love to collect and analyze this data. Christian Rudder, co-Founder and the guy responsible for all the data analysis from their blog OkTrends, stopped the blog a couple of years ago so he could focus on turning his research into a book.

I admit, I’m the first to read and write about OkCupid studies. Pulling information from that many online daters is bound to yield some interesting results. Of course Rudder can pick out the most interesting trends – like who gets the most messages (people with really unusual features – large noses, big hips, etc.—not the average pretty people), what messages daters respond to (Hint: don’t put “hey sexy” in the subject line), and why if you’re a guy you shouldn’t smile in your photo or look the camera in the eye.

But even Rudder says in an interview with NPR that the data isn’t really representative of what people do in real life.

“Look, there’s no way OkCupid, Facebook, Twitter, these sites even added all together can stand in for the entirety of the human condition,” Rudder tells NPR’s Arun Rath. “People do all kinds of things they don’t do online.”

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