I read an article which used rational choice theory within economics to categorise those not in a relationship as being ‘romantically unemployed’. It referred specifically to the construction of the algorithms which underpin online dating sites and the matching of singletons to become couples.
Okay, at one level this is funny. Not ‘single’ or ‘looking’ or ‘not interested’ or’ perfectly happy with my dog, thank you’ or whatever, but unemployed. Romantically unemployed.
Dig a little deeper and it is unfunny. Unemployed equals ‘unproductive’ in free market thinking; that is, not contributing to society or the national economy. In the nasty jargon of the Australian government, these unemployed are ‘leaners, not lifters’ who sponge off the rest of society.
The romantically unemployed? Do they need to apply like the labour market unemployed for a position/date forty times per month to avoid being pariahs on the economy? Should they be expected to travel far and wide searching for a date/position? Should they be doing productive local community work/dating locals in order not to be socially unacceptable?
At least they receive no government benefits for being romantically unemployed and will not live in constant fear of having benefits reduced or removed to ‘encourage’ them back into romantic entanglement.
Should they be interviewed by government officials every month to check that they are ‘genuine romantically unemployed’ and not simply leaners who have set their romantic standards too high to avoid the perils of the dating pool and the joys of coupledom? Being unrealistic and not genuine in their quest? Not prepared to accept ‘good enough’ or NQR?
What about the free market obsession with ‘efficiency dividends’, which simply means doing more with less? How could this be targeted at the slack ‘romantically unemployed’? Surely there is room for more efficient searching and dating?
Surely a free market can make revenue from the ‘romantically unemployed’? Oh, that’s right. That is what online dating is all about and we are back at square one.
I’m pondering how we can refine this ‘romantically unemployed’ category; the unemployable, the long term, the unskilled, those in need of skills upgrading and further training?
All very funny and all very sad. And guess what? Everything I have poked fun at here is already happening. Think of any absurdity these days and I guarantee it is out there somewhere.