The way Chinese approach this challenge is unique. And here you can see why.
So what kind of personal info gets shared? In addition to essentials like age, height, body type (skinny/not skinny), the area of residence and a phone number, these ads often include education, job title and salary. Women get to be a little more picky, so a man would often be asked whether they own a house or a car, whether they smoke or drink and whether they are kind or not. A Zodiac sign is another detail that gets mentioned since Chinese strive for cosmically perfect matches.
A bit counterintuitive in the age of the Internet, but still an interesting cultural phenomenon. Have you come across something like that anywhere else? We haven't. So to get a better idea of how this all worked, we made a couple of circles around the park.
1. there were mostly male ads on display
2. the park was overrun by elderly people
I later learned the reasons for it.
Gender imbalance in Asia is being a huge problem right now and becoming even a bigger one in the future. But in major cities like Beijing or Shanghai it is easy to forget about it. With all the women and girls on the streets and in the stores it's really hard to imagine that China is currently "missing" between 40 and 60 million women(as estimated by UN experts).
They are called "missing" because they've never been born thanks to gender-based abortions. Long story short, when a family is only allowed to have one child, many choose that to be a boy. Years later when the boys grow up, they end up competing for women not only against their peers, but also against older and more financially established men.
That explains the target audience of the ads in the park. While the children are busy making a living and growing that all-important nest egg, the parents are responsible for finding a suitable partner.
Even if there is one, it's hard to catch without understanding the language. While it's quite possible that the ads are organized based on the area or age, to me they seemed like rows and rows of identical pieces of paper attached to each other and hanging along the pathways. Some stood out a little better than others - pictures and different coloured pages were the first ones to draw attention. But for some reason there weren't many of those. So it's still a mystery to me how anyone could find a possible match in this sea of seemingly perfect profiles. Like with the rest of us, maybe it's just a matter of luck?
I hope one day each of them will find what they look for even though the stats aren't on their side.