Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine's Day Post - Singlehood is the new Venereal Disease ! Huzzah !

When I was single, I used to say that children are the most common venereal disease in this world. Now that I am a father of two kids, it is now a convenient time to declare that single-hood is the newest and most virulent venereal disease in this world.

Something is different about VD in 2016.

At the personal level, I can no longer celebrate Valentine's with my wife, she is still under confinement so instead I will buy a cake, some snacks, and celebrate with my in-laws which consists of about three couples and five kids. The focus of Valentine's Day is actually on my kids - Clio already has declared her wish for chocolate cake. There is also, of course, the issue of money and inflated prices of roses and general lovey-dovey stuff today which does not make economic sense to go out today.

At the broader level, I am seeing a change in the focus of business on VD. The most touted movie right now is a chick flick called How to be Single and not one which celebrates marriage ( like 50 Shades of Grey ). Otherwise, I am seeing a ramp-up in business activities to get singles to celebrate their status. I don't see any reason why singles need to be depressed on this day at all.

Actually it makes sense for local businesses to pivot from couples to singles. Couples these days are quite driven to settle down and have kids, most of the more highly educated ones actively plan for the future so it may not make so much sense to overspend on one special day.

Singles however, have all that freedom to do whatever they want.

Of course, this year is interesting because we may be seeing the effect of the rise of hook-up culture and the Dating Apocalypse brought about by hook-up apps like Tinder which backs my thesis that Singlehood is the new VD. Tinder gives guys (or fuckboys) a means to tap into a weak, localised networks for hook-ups by demand. And networks have an amazing ability to spread because now we effectively have some sort of peer-to-peer network which provides hook-ups on demand.

The effect is that the most eligible guys have an app which can ensure that they always get their fix. This raises the premium on single-hood relative to marriage. So the demand for marriage drops with single-hood as a more viable substitute. While people still get married and start families, the numbers will be reduced as rational guys take on Tinder and find a serious relationship later after they tire of hook-ups.

The net effect is universally bad for women who are serious about family and relationships. The pool of eligible men will dry up creating longer waits for a women to find a spouse and time is going to be an issue because men are still quite visual and expect their spouses to remain visually appealing.

Another interesting issue is the rise of match-making apps and whether they can turn the tide by using the same networks to help facilitate more marriages and family formation.

But somehow, I am pessimistic about the prospect of these dating apps.

Imagine a Tinder as a Stock Exchange where there's plenty of liquidity and trade. Your match-making app is like a sluggish OTC market with very low liquidity and a brokerage fee. Worse, when a match occurs in a match-making app, both market players disappears completely. I expect men to have both apps on their smartphones and will be very choosy while using a match-making app because Tinder will always be there to suggest alternatives.

Right now, the jury is out on how apps like Tinder will affect our local dating scene but the pivot of local businesses towards singles might be the first symptoms of a Tinder-fuelled singlehood becoming a better lifestyle choice.

Ironically, perhaps the only way to break the network effect of a hook-up app is via an actual disease like that spread by the Zika virus.

For family men, we will get to observe and have some popcorn to eat, but we will have to educate and direct our kids when they grow up if we do want them to settle down and start families on their own.

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