Isn't It Time the NSA Went Into the Matchmaking Business?


Meeting people sucks. Maybe it would just be easier if the government did it for us. Before you dismiss my proposal as another big Nanny State bleeding heart poopy pants liberal Obamabot fantasy, consider what’s happening in South Korea, where the lowest fertility rate among industrialized countries (1.15) has government officials and corporations worried that soon the country will run out of replacement humans to take care of the humans who already exist. To add to the population woe, Koreans are waiting even longer to get married — according to the New York Times, the average South Korean woman doesn’t marry until she’s an ancient 29.4 and the average South Korean man waits until he’s 31.8.

The problem is that, traditionally, South Koreans of marriageable age have never really had to meet people without help; they were partnered off with the aid of a matchmaker, who would recommend dates based on analysis of the potential mates’ birthdates and family histories and status. Even those who didn’t use matchmakers relied on family recommendations in spousefinding. But as more Koreans move to cities and away from tradition, they ran into problems meeting people on their own. Enter the Korean government’s dating parties. From the Times,

In a country where arranged courtships are fading into the past, the Ministry of Health and Welfare began promoting the idea of dating parties in 2010. Under the enthusiastic leadership of its minister at the time, Cheon Jae-hee, it held four parties that year that brought together its workers and employees at local corporations — making a splash in the news media. Ms. Cheon officiated at the wedding of the first couple who met at one. Featured in a magazine article before the wedding, the 31-year-old groom-to-be thanked the government profusely and wondered if two children would be enough to meet expectations.

Since then, the government’s effort has expanded to include other events like bar meetups and flash mobs, and while the “problem” of awkwardness sans formal introduction hasn’t yet been 100% fixed, things look promising.

Now, I realize there are huge cultural differences between Korea and the US, and as an American white lady from the Middle West, I’ve never known a person of similar socioeconomic background to me relying on their families or a town matchmaker to nudge them down the path toward wedded bliss. But what I do know is that modernity and technology have wreaked their own kind of havoc on American courtship and that by the time they find The Right Person (if that even happens), most people in their twenties and thirties will have wasted thousands of hours with The Wrong People. So here’s my proposed solution: the government should just use the resources already at its disposal to match single Americans up with each other.

But dating is fun!, you might say. I enjoy meeting new people and I like the adventure, you might say. Let me remind you, again: meeting people sucks. When it comes to dating, hitching one’s wagon to the wrong star leads to mutually assured destruction. And almost ever possible avenue from Lonelyville to Coupletown is fraught with all kinds of risks.

You could meet someone at a bar, but then you run the risk of dating the sort of person who meets people in bars (I’m not slut shaming; just looking out for your sexual health. Drunk men hate condoms even more than sober ones). You could meet someone at work, but then if things don’t work out, you have to look at their dumb face every day and remember how you used to close your eyes when they came because they’d make that face and it was all you could do to keep from drying up like time lapse footage of a flower dying. You could meet someone through your friends, but if it doesn’t work out, hanging out with your friends will Get Weird for awhile. You could go out with the Nice (Closeted gay, crushingly Catholic) Boy you’ve known since college that your mom is so fond of but for obvious reasons that won’t work out. You could go on OKCupid but ahahahahahhahahahahaha (sorry).

No. None of these things are good ideas. What American women need is the advice of an entity without sentimental prejudice who can rationally assess two people’s compatibility based not only on on what they consume and what they produce or how they cultivate their public/internet persona. We need to consult a person who knows what you do when you’re alone and you think no one is watching. We need a government algorithm.

As potential matchees, we wouldn’t even need to do anything; thanks to bulk surveillance, the government probably already has in its possession every byte of data you’ve entered into a computer that’s connected to the internet. The government knows what YouTube videos you watch when you’re sad. They know what you listen to on Spotify when you turn the settings to PRIVATE (Lil’ Kim’s Hard Core which, by the way, was a really good album for what it’s trying to be). Thanks to last summers David Petraeus scandal, we know they know about all your saved, unsent email drafts. They know what’s in your epicurious recipe box, they know that you will click on literally anything with TOM HARDY in the headline, that you frequent liberal news sources and which porn videos are your favorite. They probably can guess when you’re drunk. They know what you bought your mom for Christmas. They know what you bought your last boyfriend for Valentine’s Day. They know everything you’ve ever GChatted to your best friend. They know everything. And if they only applied what they already knew about everyone in America to matching them up with their perfect other half, maybe domestic surveillance wouldn’t be so unpopular.

It certainly sounds less humiliating than a speed dating flash mob.


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