Long, long ago in internet time (okay, back in 2005 or so), a personals/online dating company came to NextStage and asked if we could create a tool — a Love Gauge — that would tell if people were a good match for each other, ie, would fall in love. Even better, could the tool determine how long lasting that relationship would be. We responded, “How do you define Love?”
There are three basic kinds of Love
Humans are capable of three basic forms of love; Agape, Philios and Eros. Most people can figure out Eros pretty quickly; it’s the ritualization of reproductive sex. I write “ritualization” from a cultural anthropology perspective. Our brains’ most powerful circuitry, the neuroanatomical pieces that will win every argument every time, still rule our lives in this order:
- Can I survive?
- Can I mate?
- Can I eat?
People are amazed at how much time our non-conscious minds devote to insuring those three things can happen. All that talk about altruism and giving one’s life for another? Those are easily explained by behavioral ethology. All that talk about fidelity? Look to cultural anthropology. Making sure everyone has enough and the right things to eat? Watch the Food Channel.
So Eros, erotic love, is pretty much physical in demonstration and mental in causation. Humans need to think sexually in order to perform sexually and the former, the thinking, must always take place first.
Philios is the “higher” form of love and the term from which Philadelphia, “The City of Brotherly Love”, gets its name. Philios is the love we have for our family, our friends, our neighbors and so on. On a cognitive level, are there things you’d do for your friends that you wouldn’t do for your lovers or vice versa? If yes, those differences are demonstrations of how you consciously and non-consciously segment Eros from Philios.
Agape is the love “God has for man” and is actually recognized in two forms, top down — God to us — and bottom up. The love we have for our chosen deities is the “bottom up” form of agape love. Not only that, but the “love” we have for country, for causes, for institutions, for groups, et cetera, all fall into the agape category. Whenever we believe there’s a “love” relationship between us and something we recognize as “greater” than us, it is coming from the parts of the brain that register and respond to agape love. The emotions a toddler has for their parent, recognizably older siblings and adult near-family members (grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles, etc) is agape in nature, growing into philios (we hope) as they mature.
Part of human neural design is that we are capable of experiencing these three loves separately, simultaneously and in all mixtures possible.
It’s wonderful, how we’re designed.
Back to Making Tools
The company that wanted a Love Gauge was, it turned out, primarily interested in Eros and Philios, and they weren’t particular which one dominated at what point in the relationship so long as people were satisfied with their partnerings long enough not to blame this company should a relationship turn sour.
Our tools’ technology base currently is capable of recognizing agape and philios, but not eros.
So we told them that. We shook hands and walked away.
But not before we developed a Compatibility Gauge. We developed the Compatibility Gauge because we thought going through the motions would help us figure out how to recognize and measure eros.
Well, it didn’t.
But then I got a call from a friend who’s also a regular client in a completely unrelated industry, one that builds on and offline communities. We got to talking about recent projects and I mentioned NextStage’s Compatibility Gauge (”NSCG” for short). I explained philios and agape to him and he said, “So it can determine if two people will get along, just not if they’ll fall in love, right?”
“Can it determine if two groups will get along?” Yep.
“How about someone coming into an existing workgroup. Could it determine if they’ll fit in and contribute?” Definitely.
“How about if someone would be a good manager for an existing team?” Yup.
“Can it determine if two companies should merge?” To a point, yes.
“How about if someone would be a good CEO for an existing company?” Ayup.
“Brands and fans?” Yes. “Brand persona and Consumer Persona?” Yes.
“So it can figure out who should be accepted into a particular branded community for testing purposes?” Yep, sure can.
Not to mention who’d make good political running mates. Or who’d be good friends.
And thus a tool was born.
But wait, there’s more…
A while later (a long while later in internet terms) I was talking with someone else and they made an offhand comment that got me to thinking about a way to modify one of our existing tools, NextStage OnSite, NSOS. NSOS traditionally reported on website visitor en masse, not individually. It could determine group behavior and response but wasn’t designed to report on individuals.
But what they said gave me an idea of how to modify the math inside that tool so that it could report on certain elements of individual behaviors. The results of that can be seen on NextStage’s Facebook page (and please beFriend and Like us while you’re there).
Modifying NSOS brought me again to a Love Gauge concept. There had to be a way to do it, I simply wasn’t understanding the problem correctly.
So I asked our technology “What is Love between two people?”
First, yes, we can actually ask our technology such things and get an understandable response. Second, because our technology currently “thinks” like a child albeit a child with a vast knowledge of how humans interact, it responded with
- Eros: Pleasurable compassionate attention to another’s person
- Philios: Consistent demonstrations that another’s peace and understanding have equal value to the self’s peace and understanding
- Agape: Trust beyond knowledge, understanding and experience
We’ve gotten use to our technology being Zen-like and Koanish. For example, “Pleasureable compassionate attention to another’s person” makes quite a bit of sense when one breaks the phrase up a bit; “Be aware of their physical, emotional and psychological pleasure/pain thresholds and move between them as they wish. Focus more on them than on yourself.”
That “Be aware of their physical, emotional and psychological pleasure/pain thresholds and move between them as they wish. Focus more on them than on yourself” is actually something our technology can measure and report on because love, regardless of the form, is more about the mind than the body and a lot of what’s in that definition is mind-based, not body-based.
We’ve gotten use to our technology being smarter than us.
And by the time my next That Think You Do post is published, that Love determining tool should be available. We’ll be making it available here for your…um…pleasure.
So stay tuned.
And in the meantime, go play with The NextStage Compatibility Gauge. It might save you some headaches before you go out on that first date.
- “The Future of Social Networking: 140 Characters at a Time” at the 14 Sep 2011 Harrisburg University Social Media Summit
- Twitter/Facebook./Linkedin - best strategies at the The Power of eMarketing Conference 13 Oct 11 in Providence, RI
- Annual SNCR Research Symposium & Awards Gala,Â Harvard Faculty Club, Harvard Univ. - Cambridge, MA, 3-4 Nov 11
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