Join the MatchMakerMovement
The MatchMaker is a pill that destroys the brain parts associated with a certain behavior or habit. The idea behind this startup (and the 8 year trajectory) is a reflection of not only how problematic a product like this would be, but easy it would to sell it. Science does not sell, but sex and emotions do.
One assumption that I make in MatchMaker is the lack of discipline that couples take on to solve issues in their relationships. It assumes that there is no space for constructive criticism in a failing relationship. More generally, it assumes that we don’t ask for feedback often, nor do we take it well when it’s given. Constructive feedback always an exchange, while advice is one-way.
Most importantly, MatchMaker assumes that all couples are “perfect” for eachother and that any and all problems in a relationship are based on bad habits. In my pitch, I market the product as the easy, time-saving solution to any relationship. In a sense, MatchMaker makes relationships seem so easy!
One feature of the MatchMaker service is the requirement that both people (assuming its monogamous) purchase a pill for one another.
MatchMaker is a reflection of the integral ways that technology has manipulated our processes and interpretation of time. This new ability to quantify so many aspects of life has potentially led us to being control freaks who only think in terms of input/output.
Besides intentional neuron degeneration and determining the genome sequence responsible for specific behaviors, I do not think we will ever create a pill or service that can target a specific habit in 30 minutes and remove it forever. If I had to quantify it, I think there is a 0.001% chance that biotechnology develops a similar product within the next 100 years. There’s a paradox in the way that medicine has improved our quality of life, leading to longer lives. With the Internet, I think we already take many “shortcuts” in life, because I can look up an article and get advice faster than texting or calling a friend. MatchMaker only speeds up that process (instantaneously).
After the in-class presentation, I explored the ways that MatchMaker is related to Aldous Huxley’s A Brave New World (thanks to these sparknotes). Surprisingly, my impossible project is not much different from the dystopian ideals described in 1932, when the book was first published. Psychological manipulation, classical conditioning, and the dehumanization of society are constant anxieties of a generation still adapting to the aftereffects of the industrial revolution.
If A Brave New World is a textual form of design fiction about the power of psychological conditioning and brainwashing, then our society has not done much to address these issues critically. MatchMaker is a product that answers the “what if” in long-term relationships and marriages.
As mentioned by Bruce Sterling, the definition of design fiction includes “deliberate use,” meaning that there is intention behind it.1 The beauty of design fiction is that it constantly borders between what we want and what we should have in the world. More than often, design fiction settles in a conversation that somehow drives consumers to believe that we should have it in the world. The average consumer is not critical enough. After creating an 8 year trajectory for MatchMaker, I realized how easy it might be to sell this product and spread it. No matter how bad the reviews are or scientific research that disqualifies the product, I think a product like this would easily become popular. That the power of rhetoric and marketing in a capitalist society. It makes me reconsider how critical consumers are.
I think consumers who are so worried about their data being used should not purchase items nor live on the grid. The act of browsing online or purchasing a product in the store already adds to the massive metadata that companies and stores collect about consumer patterns.
One day, with so much conditioning and control, we soon will be robots. With MatchMaker, the ability to subjectively eliminate another person’s behavior is dangerous since one bad behavior for someone might be interpreted as desired or positive for another.
For these reasons, I think the role of anticipatory anthropology is more needed than ever. Anticipatory anthropology is defined by Textor et al. as “the use of anthropological knowledge and ethnographic methods, appropriately modified and focused, to anticipate change.”2 Employing this methodology allows us to naturally critique the fears, aspirations, and opinions of the present generation. Ideally, I would have asked more people what they thought of the MatchMaker pill, to gauge what hopes and fears they feel as a result of this controlling substance.
Bruce Sterling, “Patently untrue: fleshy defibrillators and synchronised baseball are changing the future” in Wired, (2013)