Here's How Horribly Awkward Dating Could Get, Thanks to Technology

TEDxMelbourne glimpses one possible future

Few would argue that technology has made the dating scene any better. But perhaps we ain't seen nothing yet. 

A new spot from Cummins&Partners for TEDxMelbourne looks at the dating world a few years from now, where personal tech has gotten super fancy, but not necessarily for the better. Where we once had Google Glass, now, apparently, we have a headset—with a bulging gadget at our temple—that helps us navigate life at every turn. 

Except it doesn't really help. Especially when the task at hand—a first date—is already pretty un-navigable: 

Life Assist, a TEDxMelbourne film

The scenario is obviously exaggerated for comic effect, but the underlying anxieties ring true. If our experience in recent years has taught us anything, it's that technology is just as likely to feel imprisoning as liberating. Indeed, TEDxMelbourne's questioning its own theme of "Limitless" (the subject of an upcoming event that the spot is advertising) feels right on point. 

"Already we can see that a side effect of rapidly improving technology is social awkwardness—we DM, sext, message, Facetime, but don't actually talk," says Cummins&Partners creative director Luke Wallis. "Staring at the three dots of an incoming text message is anxiety-inducing. We wanted to take this idea to its logical conclusion, and use it to ask more questions."

Art director Elijah Swart tells Muse that the agency had just three weeks from the day they were briefed to the day the film had to be live. Also, the brief was spectacularly broad: "Talk to the idea of limitless in terms of technology and humankind." 

"Sometimes, with a brief like this, when you have limitless opportunities, you can feel quite limited," Swart says. "This actually led us to our insight—that we're already being limited in the way we use tech, not communicating face to face, and suffering from 'choice fatigue.' We wanted to keep pushing this idea to see where it could go, and it landed us at 'Life Assist.' "

The piece was made entirely in-house at Cummins&Partners. 

"We used our in-house director/editor Jesse Richards right throughout the whole process," says Swart. "His investment during concepting and writing meant that when it got to shoot day, he had a clear vision of what we wanted, and because he was doing post-production, he was live editing in his head while on the shoot." 

Local equipment supplier Vision House and sound studio Bang Bang Studios also helped out, as did a local pub and talent who volunteered their time at a reduced rate. 

Says Swart: "Overall, this was a great exercise for C&P to show off our in-house chops—using internal writers, directors, art directors, visual effects artists, etc.—to create great content quickly and on a limited budget." 

TEDxMelbourne's "Limitless" event is happening June 5 at the Melbourne Convention Centre. 

" 'Limitless' explores how we understand ourselves and the world we live in," says Jon Yeo, licensee and curator of TEDxMelbourne. "The future is both uncertain and exciting. We are delighted to have Cummins&Partners work with us to explore this journey. They understand and appreciate the values and attention to detail required to bring an event like this together." 


Head of Marketing: Tanya Simpson
Production & Digital Lead: Alice McGenniss-Destro
Producer: Claudia Sarosiek

Creative Director: Luke Wallis
Associate Creative Director Adam Slater
Senior Copywriter Liam Jenkins
Copywriter JJ Cummins
Art Directors: Amy Strang and Elijah Swart
Producer: Afrim Memed
Group Account Director: Steph Garner
Director: Jesse Richards

DOP - Marcus Cropp
Camera Assistant: Lachlan Wright
Gaffer: Alex Wilson
Best Boy: Jaydan de Oliveira
Sound Recordist: Hugh Palmer
Hair & Makeup: Rachel Morrison
Photographer: Madeleine Gill
Props Maker: Andrew Crane
Sound Studio: Bang Bang Studios
Sound Engineer: Sam Hopgood
Sound Producer: Polly McGregor

Casting: Nick Hamon Casting & Epic Talent
Casting Agents: Amy Mete (CGA) & Keeley Ross

Rebecca Cullinan - Allie
Angus Brown - Tom
Rebecca Caldwell - Bartender

Special thanks: 
The Local Taphouse
The Vision House

Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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