Katerina Lyadova went looking for love online. What she found was a whole lot of nothing: hours spent on apps chatting with unknown men, with little meaningful connection. Dating in 2016 felt like a full-time job.
So, she decided to outsource it.
A business owner with a problem-solving mindset, Lyadova embarked on a three-month experiment based on the following premise: There’s no such thing as digital chemistry. Online chats are, for the most part, meaningless small-talk. And so these conversations – which constitute the most time-consuming aspect of online dating – can be outsourced to an employee.
To up the ante and truly take Tinder off her to-do list, Lyadova went one step further, giving her dating manager complete control over the process, from swiping for potential matches, to chatting and setting up a meeting time and place.
The dates simply dropped into her calendar: all she had to do was show up.
29 first dates, two dating managers, and one bot later, Dating Vandalized offers readers a visceral look into one woman’s quest for love in the digital realm, navigating the apps that hold enormous potential to both connect us and circle us further from intimacy, immediacy, and finding the deepest desires of our hearts.
Along the way, Lyadova navigates the hills and valleys of a romantic life that’s out of her hands, yet strangely and spectacularly within her control – and a hidden pain that returns to haunt her.
There are people behind these screens. Can they be captured by an algorithm? Defined by a list of likes and dislikes? Selected and vetted by a third party, either human or robot?
Perhaps. It depends on what you ultimately see behind the Tinder cards: who is holding the deck, and how it folds.