In a time when being angry you’re not getting laid can put you on the FBI’s terror watchlist, it’s becoming clear that our modern, internet-centric way of finding love is not without its really, really scary flaws. So how do we teach the valuable skill of being a good date to people who desperately need it? Apparently, there’s no need for that, as you can just hire con artists to do all the work for you.
Vida is a weird niche dating company that has quietly been chugging along for nearly a decade. Founded by self-proclaimed pick-up dude Scott Valdez, it offers the service of “Virtual Dating Assistants,” who take over your online dating and act as a depressing combo of Cyrano de Bergerac and that one episode of Black Mirror in which Jon Hamm whispers pick-up advice into a guy’s earpiece. That seems a bit unethical, but if bad ’90 rom-coms have taught us anything, it’s that a little switcheroo subterfuge is fair in the name of romance. But even in Vida’s recruiting language, it becomes obvious that they’re not really there to act as the Microsoft Paperclip of romance, gently helping the tongue-tied lovelorn reach their happily ever after.
Dating Assistants come in three flavors: “Profile Writers” who optimize the likability/SEO of your Tinder profile, “Matchmakers” who spam pick-up lines to potential dates, and “Closers” who literally take over your dating account and chat to women trying to get their number — for which they get a $1.75 bonus. To get the feel of their personalities, clients have to fill in extensive questionnaires and do a 90-minute interview with their Closers. Because it’s always a great idea to give all your personal information to someone who steals identities for a living but doesn’t even make minimum wage .
As a result, Virtual Dating Assistants are discouraged from being creative and actually empathizing with potential matches. Instead, they are trained to follow scripts and techniques developed by the company’s CEO, sprinkling in just enough real personal information not to raise suspicion that you’re talking to a glorified sex farming robot. Even in its choice of language, Vida seems to employ the same old pick-up artistry ethos that snares the chronically undateable’s sense of entitlement. The site speaks of scoring “high quality women” for those who don’t time to deal with today’s “inefficient methods of meeting women.” “Who has that kind of time to waste without getting the results they deserve,” which is something you say when you’re trying to get six-minute abs, not paying other people to catfish human beings into loving you.
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