Monday, February 3, 2014

Meet Market

For nearly ten years I was a professor at a major university. One of my service obligations was to act as the chairman of the Graduate Admissions Committee for my department. In that position I was responsible for reviewing all of the applications for admission into our graduate school program. Each year I had to select 20 to 25 of the most promising applicants from the 300 or 400 submissions that were received. Each prospective student was represented by a manila folder containing information that reflected their entire life's work to that point. Page after page of transcripts, standardized test scores, application forms, admissions essays, research work, and plans for their future. Because my time to review each folder was limited and because I had learned what to look for to select the best prospective students, I could make a reasonably accurate judgment of an applicant in about 2 to 3 minutes. It was kind of a daunting and surreal process deciding a person's fate based on years and years of their work in just a few minutes of my time. One pile of haves, another pile of have nots.

Recently I had a flashback to those days as the committee chairman. My pastor recommended that I consider using an online dating site to meet women. On most of these sites each person is represented by a photograph and a few bullet points summarizing who they are and what they are looking for. At the bottom of each screen you can click on a button that says I am interested or No thanks. With most of the women who were suggested that matched my profile, I was clicking on the No thanks button within 2 to 3 seconds. I was placing a person's entire life into my pile of haves or have nots after the merest of consideration. Initially I figured that this was not unreasonable given that my time is finite and I have a lifetime of experience in knowing what I prefer. Yet for someone already prone to judging people and dismissing them too quickly, this process was only reinforcing an already negative trait in me.