Sunday, August 23, 2015

Technology disruption, marriage and the New Age bachelor.

I think new technology developments warrant a fresh look into marriage and bachelorhood in Singapore.

It started during the summer holidays when I was asked by my professor what is the most important app which was developed over the past 12 months. My answer was Tinder. I was unable to really come up with a strong argument for the app because I was not a user of the app and had to rely on articles from other folks who could not stop raving about it.

My only argument was that Gen-X guys in general struggled hard to get hitched 10 years ago - I had to learn multiple foreign languages and endure a few rounds of mathcmaking before I met my wife at Japanese school. It was tiring and demoralizing, Nothing beats the disappointing of heading for a matchmaking session then finally seeing the other party (Yes ! I am a  visual creature !).

The Millenials have it so easy these days because all they had to do was to swipe to the right.

It wasn't until  an article in Vanity Fair which spoke about the massive changes in dating behavior which confirmed my suspicion : Tinder is a revolutionary app which fundamentally alters the way we mate - Companionship as a Service ( CaaS ) or worse, Sexual Gratification as a Service ( SGaaS )

This has serious consequences for all societies.

A very articulate friend of my cousin's offered a much better argument today. In the past, dating was a complex ritual. You had to smile. She had to smile back. Then you need to have courage to ask. Then, she has to assess whether you are an axe murderer before agreeing to hang out together.

To supplement his points, I would add that the old school dating dance was slow and bureaucratic - If you end up meeting a Gen-X female battleaxe who "wants to take turns being the alpha", then maybe you need to crawl back to the pub and start again.

From the lens of the suffering of Gen X, Tinder is revolutionary. The matching was done almost real time. In the world of Tinder, there is no rejection.

I watched my lady cousins install the application just now and, within minutes, they were giggling at various male profiles and talking about how "cannot make it" they are. I can imagine women using Tinder just to make fun of guys but occasionally swiping right when they see a good looking hunk, but the guys will keep swiping just to try their luck on anything which is remotely attractive to them.

More importantly, I think it does not take a genius to figure out that Tinder plus the launch of female libidinal drug Addyi would have a serious impact on marriage and society today.

Imagine this new world where successful bachelors can get ready sexual access by simply swiping right on app. Female libidinal drugs ensure that someone would always be at the right mood. Asset securitization and finance decouples wealth from owning large pieces of land, allowing an single with $300,000 financial independence and absolute freedom to travel the world or play games forever on their PS4.

This new bachelorhood : PS4 + Dividend stocks + Tinder + Addyi will be a grave threat to the institution of marriage. The best guys now have a lot of incentive to take themselves out of the marriage market. Single men will get not just more variety and but also more action than (faithful) married men !

Who will  get married then ? Policy makers will contend with a lower replacement rate, maybe reaching numbers like 0.8.

I foresee several drastic policies which can possibly ameliorate this situation which we should start debating about right now :

a) The first idea is that the government  consider drastically strengthening the finance of families which consist of a couple and at least 2 children. One possibility is to allow them to purchase another flat from HDB for the purposes of renting out to foreigners.

b) The second idea from a letter to the Economist is to supplement annuity payments like CPF Life of the elderly with the income taxes generated by their working children. This is a truly fair system which rewards elderly parents for the hard work done turning their children into productive citizens.

Some advice for the younger readers :

a) If you are female, Tinder does not help you find men who are willing to commit to a long term relationship. You need to know what you want out of life and maybe decide to skip out on Tinder entirely.

b) If you are male : What the hell are you waiting for ? You can always shut it off when you ever decide to settle down.

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