Feb 162014

The Freakonomics: What You Don’t Know About Online Dating episode is, for the most part, an economist’s guide to dating online. (Yes, we know: sexy!) You’ll hear tips on building the perfect dating profile, and choosing the right site (a “thick market,” like Match.com, or “thin,” like GlutenfreeSingles.com?). You’ll learn what you should lie about, and what you shouldn’t. Also, you’ll learn just how awful a person can be and, if you’re attractive enough, still reel in the dates.



Alli REED: I had been personally on OKCupid on and off for a few years…

Stephen J. DUBNER: That’s Alli Reed.

REED: And I just moved to L.A. in August and you know got back on as a way to meet people, and get to know the city a little bit.

DUBNER: Reed is a comedy writer. She spent a lot of time on her OkCupid profile. OKCupid, in case you don’t know, is a dating website. The profile that she wrote wasn’t really working.

REED: …got a lot of messages of, hey, you seem nice. Like, just nothing to do with my profile, and so I wondered does anyone care at all. Like are they just looking at a picture. So I wanted to see if there was a lower limit to how awful a person could be before men would stop messaging her on an online dating site.

DUBNER: So this is when she got crafty. She wrote a fake OkCupid profile. Very, very fake.

[MUSIC: The Mackrosoft, “The Game In F# Minor” (from Antonio’s Giraffe)]

DUBNER: So you set up a profile, and your name is what?

REED: AaronCarterFan.

DUBNER: And are you, in fact, an Aaron Carter fan?

REED: No, but I figured the woman I was trying to create probably constitutes Aaron Carter’s basic fan base.


REED: Well, Aaron Carter is the younger brother of a Backstreet Boy who had a brief and ill-advised rap career.


REED: And there is just no substance there in his music at all. And that was what I was trying to reflect in AaronCarterFan.

DUBNER: Talk about some of your favorite highlights or lowlights of your profile.

REED: Well, one thing I wanted to make clear is that she’s not just a bad person, she wants to ruin your life. So under the section “what I am really good at” the only thing she lists is “convincing people I’m pregnant.”

DUBNER: LOL at the end of it.

REED: LOL. Oh yeah. She really enjoys it.

DUBNER: Right.

REED: On a typical Friday night she is knocking the cups out of homeless people’s hands because she thinks it is so funny to watch them try to pick it all up.

DUBNER: Talk to me a minute about the 6 things you could never do without. Money, my car, my phone, keeping America American, my family, and my friends, and Aaron Carter. Which I guess is 7 things, but that’s ok. What’s keeping America American meant to signal?

REED: She — to me, the worst person in the world is definitely racist. And so I needed that to be a part of her. I didn’t want it to be so obvious. You know, I wanted her to be believably terrible. I didn’t want it to be an obvious joke profile. And keeping America American, to me, is sort of code for I don’t like people who don’t look like me.

[MUSIC: Seks Bomba, “It Takes Two to Tango” (from Somewhere In This Town)]

DUBNER: So you created a profile for a girl named AaronCarter’sFan who likes to party and knock over homeless people, or at least their cups, and she’s a racist, gold digging, fake pregnant-getting, 25 year old girl, white girl. How’d you do?

REED: AaronCarterFan did very well. In the first 24 hours she got 150 messages. I had the profile up for two or three weeks, and she got close to 1000 men message her. She got probably 10 times the number of messages that my real profile got.

DUBNER: So what do you attribute that success to?

REED: Well, AaronCarterFan’s one redeeming quality is that she is very good looking. I asked my friend Rae Johnston, who is an Australian-based model and actress, if I could raid her Facebook photos and she very kindly said yes. And so Aaron Carter fan is stunningly good-looking.

DUBNER: Uh huh. And so tell me about following up with some of these replies.

REED: Well after so many messages started rolling in the optimist in me decided that these men had just seen the pretty photo and had not read her profile. So my goal at that point became to convince them that she is just awful. That she is the worst woman on earth. If they asked what I was doing I said I was pretending to be a 14 year old on Facebook so I could bully my sister’s friends. I would threaten to pull out their teeth. With a lot of guys I could just, I wrote gibberish, just pounded on keyboard for a minute and sent it and the vast majority of them responded with that sounds great, what are you doing on Friday?

DUBNER: And how many dates did you have then out of AaronCarterFan fishing?

REED: I actually, believe it or not, did not want to meet any of these men in real life.

DUBNER: Really?

REED: Yeah.

DUBNER: I am so surprised, Alli.

REED: Actually, I found that a deal breaker for me was messaging AaronCarterFan.


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