Archive for November, 2012

November 10, 2012

The end of loneliness

ImageThe friends of this blog must be aware by now, on the type of research we normally undertake. The last eight months were no different. We concentrated on finding these elusive chaotic patterns within the institutional structures, to help us predict new developing institutional forms. See our blog http://bit.ly/s0Q4hK for an introduction to the concept. 

Between others we explored ancient institutions that seem to define attempts to change, at least until recently. Not surprisingly marriage was one of them as the it was family another ancient institution which contain the first. We were very careful with family as according to our research it is one of the fundamental societal bonds and a unit of measurement for social cohesion. Social cohesion that while present, supports Nationalism and in its absence Globalisation. 

To return back to marriage it initially, on the surface, appeared untouched until we start digging deeper. According to the market research firm Euromonitor International, the number of people living alone globally is skyrocketing, rising from about 153 million in 1996 to 277 million in 2011 – an increase of around 80% in 15 years. In the UK, 34% of households have one person living in them and in the US it’s 27%. That is by far higher than global population growth.

We were surprised. That indicated that Globalisation was in the rise, a fact that we actually observed anyway, and Nationalism in retreat which we did not. But what attracted our attention mostly was the fact that the phenomena of social isolation was in the rise (more research is needed on that) which is deeply worrying, as this phenomenon appears to be feeding extremism when occurs in periods of economic crisis. 

Is there a solution we thought? Was that phenomenon present in the past and if yes what societies did to counteract it? Are there any conclusion deriving from history. We went back. A lot of us are Greek anyway so, Plato appeared in the picture fairly soon describing a similar problem.

According to him, Aristophanes was often repeating a story whereby humans used to have four legs four hands and a double faced head. Zeus thought, who was afraid of their inner strength, separated them in two, condemning them in an endless search for their soul-mate. An interesting story nevertheless, a story that in our days may serve only as a metaphor to describe a social phenomenon.

The fact though remains one, people 2500 years ago were faced with the same phenomenon we experience today!

So what societies did to address it? We found new institutions all the way to the present day from arranged marriages to engagement. Institutions that are still present in the 21st century!

What about the internet we thought? Did it offered a pressure release valve? Any institutional entrepreneurs in the social backbone? We found, once more, none to our surprise.

It appears that traditional matchmaking has just migrated (copy-paste) its 10000 years old practices into the internet. Companies saw loneliness as a profit making opportunity, a paid by the month service.

Dating overtook in 2011 porn, another loneliness fuelled industry, to become a multi-billion industry. New companies sprang every day, over the last decade, all promising anything an average person may have in its wish list. The average desperate single based on the latest research will spend $129 per year in subscription fees and another $2300 in dating or as we named it the Zeus tax. 

A critique of this dating industry Eli J. Finkel, PhD (www.news.health.com/2012/02/06/online-dating-pitfalls) highlight a few simple facts the major of which is that the industry wants you to stay single and dependent for as long as they can. The average person retains his subscription for more that 18 months!

Another interesting finding uncovers the second major pitfall of their process.

Although most dating websites feature photos and detailed, searchable profiles covering everything from personality traits to likes and dislikes, this information (they know) isn’t necessarily useful in identifying a partner…That’s partly because daters don’t always know what they want in a mate—even though they generally think they do. Studies suggest that people often lack insight into what attracts them to others (and why), and therefore the characteristics they seek out in an online profile may be very different from those that will create a connection in person,” the review notes.

In other words there is no way, but by accident, that you may find a soul-mate using this approach or services! 

In Gaianomy we generally are not a bunch of idle observers (we are all working) and where ever we can we intervene (i.e. already the Greek Government started to implement some of recommendations even if that is only partly).

We know it takes time to change institutions but if you know their structure, the right triggers, then you’ve got a chance.

So, we debated a lot on how urgently social isolation needs to be addressed under the circumstances (see Global crisis) and we agreed that something needs to be done, as soon as possible, if the migration to a post capitalistic society is to be achieved sooner than later.

Easier said then done taking on as a mission to reverse social isolation phenomena, was quite an undertaking. We went back to our research and we hypothesised that if we managed to alter the way the dating and matchmaking industry, that already owns the 50% of the market, operates we had a chance. The problem was/is that this industry is not in the business of actually matching people, as it will loose its customer base. We needed something more innovative.

A member of our group happens to be the founder of a mobiles VAS (value added services) company. They were working on a product that basically connects human desires with market offers for the last 2 years.

When we put the two together it was a no-brainer. How about finding a way to connect two individuals with the same desires, instead of one with an business enterprise, we thought? In theory it seemed feasible.

There was of course the small matter of financing it and of course the rewards for the company involved, which is not a charity.

You can guess the rest. We found a formula for financing it internally and we agreed on the maximum price the product/service can be sold in order to have a chance reaching mass market proportions. We may well be the first Think Tank that, to our knowledge, has attempted something similar.

As we publish this, we are very near to the actual product that, we hope will revolutionise the way we interact as single humans. We took on the mission to reduce loneliness to its previous, if not better, normal standard within the next ten years (that is the time frame we consider the current form of capitalism will exist) in order to enhance social integration, reduce extremism phenomena and strengthen social coherence through the empowerment of the fundamental social units the family

If it sounds interesting and you want to help, let us know. It will cost you nothing.

We are only weeks away from starting B-testing of the product. Regarding the how you can participate and details of the product we will tell you in the next blog.

Until then, please, wish us good luck.

 

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