Monday, October 15, 2012

Craigslist & Indian matrimonial sites

Almost two years back a series of amusing incidents happened with me somewhat associated with an article in NewYorker magazine, which compared Indian arranged marriages with craigslist. (Till that moment I had no clue what the hell was craigslist ;) Its a website for classifieds and has a very international presence, especially in US. 

However, I do have some clue about Indian matrimonial sites. I have vicariously experienced the roller-coaster rides some of my friends have gone through in their experiences with these sites, through SOS phone call and late night discussions. 

Lately one of my friends who is spouse-hunting gives me long-distance distress calls to discuss the women he meets on such sites. Either they are too sweet but un-interesting, or too interesting but very confused, or out of his league all together, or any one with whom he connects reminds him of his ex-flame, for whom he still pines. (It is really sad to see him stuck in such a situation, for he is one of the most loving, generous and self-aware man I have ever met ... well, from engineering profession, although I have found a few such friends :). 

Actually, in this digital era these sites are rich source of psychological data too. Years back, one of my ex-professor had done a psycho-social study of newspaper matrimonial ads and one may be tempted to extend it further now and analyse what people are looking for currently, beyond old fashioned 'fair, homely, girl' & 'well-settled doctor/engineer/IAS boy'. What is in their list! ? Is it a reflection of changing psycho-social reality of Indian population. 

One American dating site (OKcupid) has done serious amount of data mining and come up with very interesting results &write-ups ... time for Indian sites to do the same ;)
(Although in such cases, statistically analyzed crazy ideas may get fed into the public value system ... a self-fulfilling prophecy, no?). 

One more interesting aspect which I am often tempted to study is how people make meaning out of their past relationships, assessed from their online narratives. Long back I noticed this trend on Orkut, where people would fill out a question, 'From my past relationship I learned...'. 
Now, some people take it further on matrimonial sites, while posting their expected list of attributes in the prospective partner ... not only what they expect, but also sometimes in bold letters they write what they do not approve of... indicating their current state of mind, the angry,the betrayed, the depressed, the heart broken. Guess they have had enough of it last time :) 

Well, I'm reminded of dear old Freud who said, 'He that has eyes to see and ears to hear may convince himself that no mortal can keep a secret. If his lips are silent, he chatters with his fingertips; betrayal oozes out of him at every pore'. 

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