An company called ViDA is offering assistance to men, and apparently only men, with online dating by using ghostwriters to chat with the women on their clients’ behalf.
ViDA, the “Virtual Dating Assistants” company, targets “men who are cash rich but time poor” and does all the work of online dating for them.
Basically, when someone hires ViDa, they conduct a brief interview with the client in order to “get to know” them. Then they set up the client’s online dating profile and start contacting women the client has pre-selected. ViDA ghostwriters are the ones who make contact with the women and do all the online chatting with them. Then they try to set up dates with the women and their clients.
To be clear, the entire time the ghostwriters at ViDA are in communication with the women, they are pretending to be the clients they represent, the people in the online dating profile pics.
“From writing your profiles… to sending messages to your top matches… to setting up your dates… We’ll do all of the hard work for you!” the homepage of the ViDA website reads.
In other words, if a woman does agree to a date, she’ll be showing up to meet a guy she has probably never had any actual online communication with. The face will match, but the personality will be that of, well, a completely different person. What could possibly go wrong?
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) January 7, 2017
In an article she wrote for Alternet, April M. Short described the ViDA’s project as “the creepier internet version of the 2005 movie Hitch.” In the movie, men hire Will Smith’s character to walk them through talking to women via an earpiece so that they can seem more caring and interesting than they really are.
It is definitely not the ideal beginning to a relationship, and Short and others have argued that it is manipulative.
ViDA doesn’t hide its intentions or the manipulative nature of what it does. They are open about what they do, and even use language reminiscent what is heard in video promos from self-styled pick up artists.
“No matter what you’ve experienced until now, finding beautiful women to date doesn’t have to be an exhausting chore anymore,” the homepage of the ViDA site reads. “With Virtual Dating Assistants (ViDA) on your side, you’ll get top-quality dates delivered to you on a silver platter [emphasis in original].”
— SHRM HR News (@SHRMHRNews) December 29, 2016
ViDA’s not just trying to sell prospective clients on the possibility of meeting more women, the company also heavily emphasis how much easier they make the online dating process by doing all of the work themselves.
“This is a proven process that works. We spent more than 7 years uncovering and refining our precise formula, so you can expect to be matched with only the highest quality women,” ViDA continues. “Now, instead of wasting dozens of hours each month on the tedious parts of modern dating you don’t enjoy, you can instantly fast-forward to the fun part: first dates with beautiful women who are eager to meet you.”
Short stumbled upon ViDA while scrolling through listings for writing jobs on Craigslist. ViDA had posted an ad calling for ghostwriters that explained what the job would entail, and Short quickly realized the potential problems with the job the company performs.
“ViDA admittedly uses outright emotional manipulation to lure women into dates,” Short writes. “As stated in the [writing] ad, the task of this ghostwriting job is to ‘make her feel’ attraction. This company is preying on feelings for cash.”
The company’s CEO, Scott Valdez, acknowledged that there is “a little bit of an ethical gray area” in the online dating service they provide, according a profile on him and ViDA by Vice. However, he contends that “overall our service does a lot more good than it does bad.”
Whether you condone ViDA’s practices or not, one thing is certain — online dating just got even weirder and more confusing.
[Featured Image by Leon Neal/Getty Images]