Monday, July 27, 2015

The Occluded Signal

You either think of dating as game theory or you don't (and are wrong). But coming at it sideways, one of the basic tenets of the pick up artist world is "You do not choose who you are attracted to". I.E. The pick up artist techniques work even if you know they are being used on you! 

But it gets worse, in that you ALSO don't consciously choose what techniques you use to find a mate! It's like if you ask a 40 year old guy why he suddenly wants to buy a motorcycle and a sports car, and he's like "Yah, life is short, ya know?"

Why Do You Love Me?

But it is more than that and with big data you can find completely weird dating strategies that people will use without realizing they use them. Ok, I will admit, in armchair relationship science you can substitute "Big Data" for "Five minutes screenshotting Tinder Profiles to Prove a Point." 

Let's start by pointing out a basic feature of the theory that says "When you don't have the best signal in the world, obscure your signal and hope for the fucking best". This is one of those dating strategies that is almost singular to Tinder, as OKCupid, Match, and Instagram are in their own ways, a completely different game by offering a LOT more information on potential mates.

For example, the following picture demonstrates something girls do a LOT on Tinder: make a stupid face so you can't tell if they are hot or not. This "I'm sticking my tongue out at you" is surprisingly common because people think it says "Whimsical and fun!" which it very much does not. The signal they are obscuring is the most basic one of facial symmetry. 

"Look! My tongue is not forked!"

Here is another, even clearer example of an attempt at that game plan, with a woman who is "Enjoying Life" (aka, drinking the pain away):

"Maybe I have eyes, maybe I DON'T have eyes. Ask me on a date to find out!"

"You know it's a classy joint when they have those big red plastic cups, right?"

Guys do this too (often with just very fuzzy pictures), and you'll very rarely see someone MIX their strategies. There's no point in having a bunch of funny faces, and then one clear headshot. It's all or nothing. And yet, none of the people who apply the occluded signal strategy are going to realize that's what they're doing. For example, look at the symmetry hiding in all of the below pictures from "Carole", which included the required "funny tongue" shot, then two "giant sunglasses shots".

Sometimes this strategy's goal is to say "I'm at the top of the dating pool looking down and I don't even NEED to show my facial symmetry to get dates" (my roommate B does it all the time and it works great for her as a message of "exclusivity") but when the deck is stacked against you, it ends up saying the exact opposite.

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