Courtesy of Meg Stickland/Triangle News Courtesy of Meg Stickland/Triangle News

LinkedIn sweeps Tinder and OkCupid aside

Tue, Feb. 12, 2019
CAIRO – 12 February 2019: The lighting is romantic, the scenery is beautiful and the soft music playing in the background set the mood for what had seemed to be a great date. Suddenly, he or she drops a bomb on you; they’re a fan of ‘X’ or do not believe in ‘Y’ and all of a sudden the night changes and you’re doomed to a night of pain. You cannot leave and you have to endure the rest of the evening with them, and against popular jokes and sitcom advice, the “Lemon Test”, which was made famous by the television series “How I met your mother”, cannot actually apply. You evening has gone to waste; it is ruined.

This scenario is feared by so many single men and women out there. They’ve all had it happen to them or have heard the stories and they all try as much as they can to avoid being in this sticky situation.

Instead, we try to vet people who we will go out with; we try to ask as many questions before seeing them, but doing so makes you seem desperate and often is a turn-off. This led people to online dating; it is a safe way of getting to know people and vetting them. But the reality of the matter is: People lie. How can you make sure that you are not being cat fished or scammed or lied to? That became the million-dollar question. As a result, daters resorted to heading to LinkedIn to meet people.

But why LinkedIn?

A study by Incapsula found that bots account for 61 percent of all Web traffic generated, and many of those are active on dating websites and applications. This, according to an article titled, “Hot or bot? How to tell if your Tinder match is a real live human” by Taryn Hillin, is because of the nature of online dating exchanged. “When chatting with new matches, people tend to use short phrases like "lol" or "tell me more" and random get-to-know-you questions like "What's your favorite city?" and "What did you do today?"—all phrases bots pretending to be humans do well with,” Hillin writes. Add to this that chatbots often work off of ‘pattern matching’, a strategy that searches for the typical responses associated with specific questions. This makes it easier for bots to act like humans and makes it more difficult for human being to recognize that a robot is talking to them.

With 590 million people as of June 2018, according to Omnicore: Medical & Healthcare Digital Marketing Agency, the use of LinkedIn as a dating platform has become a global phenomena, with many users opting to join the new trend or pushing towards the increase of security measures to ensure that the platform cannot be used for such purpose.

Dissecting Egyptian users

A survey that included 50 men and 50 women, between the ages of 22 and 40, conducted in January 2019 by Egypt Today found that while all users agreed that LinkedIn is designed for professional purposes in mind, 67 percent admitted that they would welcome going out on a date with an individual they ‘met’ on LinkedIn.

Additionally, 40 percent of the women included in the survey said that it makes them uncomfortable when male users make advancements, as they have not signed up to the platform for this purpose. Meanwhile, 48 percent of the women agreed that this is “unwanted attention”, while 16 percent of them explained that they were inclined to quit the platform because they have received more flirty pick-up lines or flirty messages than job or event invitations or messages asking for professional help.

In a typical “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus”, 38 percent of men admitted to making romantic advancements towards female users, citing credibility of the users’ accounts as the main reason. One of those surveyed, a 29-year-old, who asked to remain anonymous, said, “Professional profiles are more honest than dating profiles and the pictures are clearer and not filtered; I know exactly what I am getting and so does she. It also makes it easier to find out one’s social and financial level, which is ultimately something we care about and look at in our society. The credibility in the profiles are beneficial for me when looking at women I could potentially try to date and for the recipient of my messages too. She gets to know exactly what kind of person I am and how I am looking to progress.”

Meanwhile, 82 percent of men mentioned that if you are looking to romantically connect with a workingwomen who takes her professional seriously, then LinkedIn is a useful resource. When women were asked about this, more than a few of them mentioned that albeit this may be a good tool to vet workingwomen, it is demeaning for a women who is being professional to be reduced to a pretty woman by undesired messages. In fact, 92 percent of women agreed that they would be turned-off by a man who does this, elaborating that it is not attractive to be treated as just a women when you are trying to advance in your career.

Worn off pick up lines

The amount of fish in the dating pool and the preposition that Egypt is easiest country for men to meet women online, an idea advanced by December 2017 online study by Wogoal.com, has made men to slack off when it comes to coming up with creative or tailored pick-up lines. This seems to be specially the case on LinkedIn, where users see plenty of unwarranted and often uncreative attention.

To find out just how stagnant these messages are, we asked some of those surveyed to share with us their experiences, assuring them that their names and the names of the senders would be redacted.

“You look beautiful in your profile picture,” won the jackpot as the most cited conversation-opener. “I love your eyes” came in close second; eight women told us that they received messages telling them they have beautiful eyes, five others said they received messages complimenting their smiles.

Among those surveyed was Fatma Youssef, a 25-year-old event manager, Youssef explained that although she does not take particular issue with the fact that men are trying to pick women up like this, she has an issue in the way they are doing it. “They are not trying to connect mentally; they are just complementing our looks and while this could have worked on me a good 10 years ago, it won’t now. I want someone to talk to me, to tell me I have a beautiful mind or that my understanding of a certain topic is second to none.”

Turns out the dates are not all that bad

But all is not lost, among all the misconceptions and mixed signals, some people do actually end up getting together because of LinkedIn. Sitting down with Lara Yassin, a 24-year-old financial analyst, and her boyfriend Omar Ismail, a 25-year-old mechanical engineer, it became clear that LinkedIn can really work better for some people better than conventional dating sites.

“I have used online dating sites since my ex-girlfriend and I broke up, so, for about a year now, but I had not managed to meet anyone that I can get along with like I imagined I would. Everyone I met on those sites either wanted to hook up, or just wanted to chat and never meet up, or they had nothing better to do. Most of the girls that I met, excuse the generalization, were still in university or had just finished but were not serious about their career; they just wanted to go out and have fun. This is okay for some people, I guess, but it does not suit me. I do not have all that free time, so I never really hit it off with anyone,” says Ismail.

“I have never used dating cites. I don’t trust them,” says Yassin, pointing out to an Egyptian conception that dating sites are not safe and that men never get married to someone they meet online. “I had just gotten out of an abusive relationship and I was going through a difficult time. I did not want to date for some time and while I had spoken to my friends about setting me up, I did not actually want to meet anyone new.”

Yassin and Ismail ‘met’ on LinkedIn after Ismail sent her a request to connect. Later the same day, Ismail texted Yassin, who had gone to the same university as him, to ask her how she is finding her work life. “The conversation was dry. She didn’t want to talk to me, but I really wanted to get to know her. I had taken a look at her CV and for some reason I told myself that a conversation would her would be eye-opening; turns out, it really is,” Ismail explains.

“It was on my birthday that we connected,” Yassin says, “He found out about this from my CV and he sent me the lyrics for Happy Birthday written out. I found myself wondering why a stranger would do this. It was weird but intriguing. I wanted to know more but could not trust him. Still, knowing that this is a site where I can see where he works and what he does and I can check online to see his life made me feel safe.”

After a couple of digital courtship, the happy couple met up for breakfast and they have been enjoying each other’s company ever since. They have already met each other’s parents and will be getting engaged later this year.
 
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