Everybody wants to be loved, to be happy and to be in love every once in a while. What is this what we call love? A definition might not be that easy because so much has been written, sung and acted on it. My personal definition, which is also the basis for this analysis, is:
“Love is the embodiment of a mental state in which one unconditionally surrenders to another being.”
A person in love is mostly fortunate enough to look physically – he is just happy. But it does not just have to be people you fall in love with – pets, cars and something abstract can be like God. For love it takes time, opportunity and a “mental lightning strike”. Now I know it: “I want it and no other.”
Being in love brings with it mental changes so that loved ones perceive the world completely differently (pink glasses). All the luck of the earth is apparently only there for her. Whether you can now prescribe love has historically been tried several times. Very well known is the threefold love commandment of Christians, according to which
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul, with all your thoughts and all your strength. Second, you should love your neighbor as yourself. “
Jesus tightened this divine law once more and added “love your enemies”. That’s almost an impossible thing. Love simply can not be prescribed, but happens. Of course, one can imagine that someone is in love with God – but it also needed a “mental lightning strike”, an enlightenment.
The Black Mirror Series 4.4 deals indirectly with the theme of love, and also with a planned and possibly even prescribed relationship, from which ideally love is created. The entire episode is about an online dating system.
Interested parties are invited by the “system” to lead a temporary life within a wall. They are accompanied by a coach, a pocket watch-like device. This coach assigns the couples to each other and also determines the time for how long this rehearsal relationship applies. Only after expiration of this must, or may, the couples separate. Such trial relationships can last from a few hours to years. An essential criterion for success should be sexual compatibility.
So Frank and Amy are invited by their coach for a lunch and the first dating. Both are very shy and yet something very special happens. The two fell in love immediately. Something like that happens in real life again and again – then means: love at first sight. However, their commonality is programmed only for 12 hours and then they had to separate again. Both go through further, longer or shorter dates. The program runs until it has found the right partner with a security of 99.8%.
The last task, separated from each other, is: Say goodbye to a partner. Both choose each other. They then decide to flee the wall. That’s exactly what thousands of other couples have, and the simulation collapses.
We now see Amy in the real world with her cell phone and the message that she would have found 99.8% of the right man with Frank. Almost the entire episode shows the algorithm of match-making. However, not about the presentation of the program code, the algorithms and the links, but the emotions. A good dating algorithm uses dimensions like time, sex, food and affections. With the approval, the algorithm can be pretty sure that Frank and Amy fit together well.
So the episode almost exclusively shows a dating service and you’d think that this is a progression from today’s online agencies. In fact, it is the visualization of the algorithm. In the episode only a few minutes of Amy’s real life are shown. Just the moment when she looks at her phone and gets the result of her dating.
It is not for nothing that the question is often asked about this episode: What did that mean?
Especially the final scene is understandable only if one knows that previously algorithms were emotionalized and personified.
Not least because of love and happiness, people have always been looking for partners, but rather for procreation and social security. Depending on the social structure, partnerships were entered for the following reasons.
Tribal societies: The most original form of the partnership was the selection and competition for the best offspring. Only the strongest should pass on his genes. Women are given the choice. They could choose the strongest and most beautiful man. Men had to prove their efficiency and strength in dealing with the environment and against each other. This behavior is evolutionary and deep in our genes. Love, on the other hand, is subordinate.
Aggressors: In the course of historical development, ever larger forms of society have developed, which were also able to attack other groups. Ostensibly it’s about country name and food gone. An essential driving force has been the possession of women. The winners got the women and passed on their genes. The defeated men were allowed to toil for it and bring the food as slaves. Ancient societies were almost exclusively built like that. In 1000 and one night is reported about the harems of the victorious sultans. Love had no meaning here.
Religion: With the cultural development, led in the Arab-Indian countries, the belief in God has developed. People could not understand various natural phenomena and, as a result, attribute these to an external power, that is, a God. Getting children is something incomprehensible and was therefore transferred to God. The necessary rules, however, were written down by people in the Bible and Koran. Fathers and religious leaders decided on the men who had to marry their daughters. There was no room for love.
Dynasty: Are family groups that are constantly multiplying their possessions for generations. All other needs of the family members must be subordinated to this endeavor. Thus, marriages were entered on the basis of economic criteria. Very well known in Austrian history are the Habsburgs, who built up a world empire through skilful marriage politics. Love has no place here. Is that still true in today’s dynasties? There should be exceptions when Prince marries Harry and Maghan.
Liberal society: is a form of society that prevailed at the beginning of the 20th century in competition with communism and fascism. The essential characteristic of liberalism is the consideration of the individual and his feelings. The state powers are chosen by the citizens according to feeling. It is voted for the party that gives the best feeling on certain topics. The heyday of liberalism began with the economic miracle of 1950. From then on, women were able to take their own life partner out of a feeling of affection and love. In Western countries, most families today live together by their own choice. That’s what love has a place for.
Global: With globalization and, most of all, Internet connectivity, we no longer have 40 potential partners in one clan, but 400 million in online dating services. The selection is so great that we have no chance to actually find the best partner. So we rely on algorithms. Those online agencies that have the best hit rates (99.8%) will also attract the most followers. Does love have a place? Yes and no. It could not be ruled out that, like Amy and Frank, an online-mediated couple also falls in love.
The online business with partners, relationships and dating can be divided into three groups:
a) Online Dating: Members are looking for partnership. The underlying algorithm searches for the ideal partner based on personality traits. With this service, EUR 570 million in sales are made. It is with an approximately 5% growth p.a. to count. Currently, 65 million users are registered. 40% of them are 25 to 34 years old. Paarship.at, Elitepartner.at, Tinder
- b) Dating services: Are companies mostly in combination of virtual and real. It offers services related to dating, such as restaurant booking, hotel booking, rules of behavior, coaching, etc. This translates into EUR 2.3 billion worldwide. About 400 million users use this service. Luxe matchmaking dating service.
- c) Matchmaking services: In the above two cases, relationships are mainly mediated on a very personal and intimate level. Matchmaking is more about finding somebody who has the same mindset about a particular topic. That could be sports, hobbies, politics, religion, etc.
In the meantime, at least in liberal societies, online dating is socially accepted. In Religious, Fundamentals and Authoritarians, this methodology is either not allowed or forbidden by punishment. There are hardly any gender specifics – 87% male and 83% female use these services. Nevertheless, love remains a coincidence and takes time, opportunity and the right moment.