There’s someone you want to hook up with. How do you find out if the attraction is mutual while avoiding the risk of rejection? That is simply not possible no matter how sophisticated a mechanism you use. Because in order for the mechanism to determine whether the attraction is mutual you must communicate your desire to hook up but she’s not that into you, well you are going to be rejected.
But rejection per se is not the real risk. Because if she rejects you without ever actually knowing it, you will be disappointed but you won’t be embarrassed. The real cost of rejection comes only when rejection is common knowledge between the rejector and the rejected.
So to design a mechanism that maximizes the number of hookups you need to give people maximal incentives to reveal whom they want to hook up with and to do that you need to insure them against common-knowledge rejections.
And that’s where Bang With Friends comes in.
Bang With Friends is a Facebook app, coded by a few college kids in a weekend, that facilitates no-risk hookups with people on your friends list. You say you’d like to bang them, and no one ever knows, unless they happen to say that they’d like to bang you, too.
Now this indeed takes care of one side of the incentive problem, but I worry about the other side. Suppose I want to know who wants to bang with me even if I don’t have the same lust for them. I can find out by putting all of my friends on my Down To Bang list. The only cost I pay for this information is that all of those who are down to bang with me will be told that I am down to bang with them. In some cases this could be lead to some embarrassment and awkwardness but I imagine some people would pay that price just to find out. And anticipating this possibility everyone is again reluctant to be truthful about who they do want to Bang for fear of being caught out this way.
One way to mitigate the problem is to replace the flat list with a ranking of your friends from most to least Bang-able, and then establish a hookup only with the friend who is highest on your ranking among those who want to Bang back. Then if you do decide to pad your list, you will put the reconnaissance Bangage low on your list. Of course this will allow you to find out those friends who put you highest on their ranking, but at least this is less information than you can get with the existing system.