Chinese online dating
(China has neither civil unions nor laws against discrimination, and it remains a very hard place to be gay.) The proliferation of choice has been so radical that Gong has often been described in the local press as “China’s No.1 matchmaker,” even though her business is a rebuke to the essence of matchmaking.
And, unlike others who glimpsed the potential of the Internet in China, she didn’t speak fluent English. She’d grown up on a farm, and her voice trembled before crowds.I met Gong six years ago, after she received a master’s degree in journalism and entered the dating business.She was nothing like the other Web entrepreneurs I’ve come to know in China.“They say, ‘Oh, I’ll get used to whatever happens.’ But you know what? She flipped through messages from anguished bachelors, meddling parents, and anxious brides—many of them current or former members.She recently released a book, “Love Well, Don’t Get Hurt,” and her advice reads like an argument against China’s ancient pieties.But nobody seemed to know how to make the most of that freedom.
China had few bars or churches, and no co-ed softball, so pockets of society were left to improvise.
Over the holiday, single men and women across the country would be returning home to visit relatives—only to find themselves interrogated relentlessly about marriage prospects. Afterward, Jiayuan’s enrollment would experience a surge similar to the New Year’s surge at fitness clubs in America. When Gong, who is thirty-six, talks about the happiness business, she tends to emphasize “price/performance ratios” and “information asymmetry.” The company, which she founded in her dorm room nine years ago, in order to find a husband, accounts for a sizable portion of China’s online dating industry and is traded on Nasdaq.
It goes by the tagline “The Serious Dating Website.” Gong was in office attire: glasses, ponytail, no makeup, and a pink Adidas jacket with a ragged left cuff.
Factory towns organized “friend-making clubs” for assembly-line workers; Beijing traffic radio, 103.9, set aside a half hour on Sundays for taxi-drivers to advertise themselves.
But those practices merely reinforced existing barriers, and for vast numbers of people the collision of love, choice, and money was a bewildering new problem.
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