Online dating is nothing new to the millennial culture. But like most things in our lives, the lockdown has had a few drastic changes in the online dating world. The 6 billion-dollar industry has been booming despite the adversity of our times. Apps like Tinder, bumble have already added COVID-19 warnings and guidelines to their opening pages. Yet somehow the graph of the usage of online dating apps shows steady growth. This just goes to prove the adaptive nature of human beings when it comes to forming connections, especially romantic ones. It's also an excellent example of big corporations adapting to tenuous times in an attempt to stay relevant.
Despite the steps taken by sites to make dating as safe as possible, it did not stop US writer Matt Stroller from tweeting his views. In one of his tweets, he says “Its time to shut down Tinder and all online dating services. No more internet-enabled interaction among random people until the #coronavirus crisis has passed.”. Though this seems like it's coming from a place of concern, the need to interact has been more important than ever. Especially for people living alone who are more at risk of feeling lonely, online dating has become an escape from negative feelings that often overcome our minds in confinement.
Another reason it might be a good idea to get into online dating during this time is the transparency it'll have. For as long as dating apps have existed its been more about hookups than meaningful relationships. The inability to meet in person, which was the biggest selling point of online dating has caused people to be more genuine. As people are under no haste to meet and need to keep up a conversation for longer, the true intentions of a person become more clear.
What changes have dating apps made during quarantine?
If there has been one thing these apps have done right it is how swiftly the adapted to the crisis. Tinder, for example, made its passport feature that allows people to connect with anyone in the world, absolutely free. Bumble saw a hike of use in its video call feature that they launched a year ago. It is the only app with an inbuilt video call feature but other apps are catching on. Plenty of Fish has launched its live-streaming feature where a person can interact with a lot of people on a live and direct message the ones they like. Grindr, on the other hand, is giving out sexting and phone sex advice. The largest gay-dating app has asked its users to get more graphic with their fantasies to keep things alive. These tactics sure seem to be working as the number of daily messages has increased.
The spike seems to be more prevalent in countries more affected by the virus. Like the USA showed an increase of 10% to 15% compared to their February statistics. Countries like Italy and Spain have shown a hike of 25% amongst other European nations. With nothing better to do and such facilities provided to people without additional cost has increased the length of conversations too. The length of chats has increased by a margin of 10%-30% on online dating apps. However, it seems almost impossible to profit off this due to the additional services these apps are providing. The apps are working on their survival instinct so that they are not part of the collateral damage this pandemic will leave.
How are people going on dates?
Video-dates are the next best alternative to meeting in person according to dating experts. Clearly apps like Bumble and Grindr took note of this and have incorporated video calls in their apps. But the users are not far from experimenting with online romance and have arranged candlelit dinners, movie nights, etc. These dates are all happening from the comfort of their own homes and have worked really well for some couples. For couples who've met on apps except for Bumble, have adopted other video calling apps. One such couple decided to explore their mutual interest in video games by continuing to talk while gaming(most video games provide a calling feature).
The virus’s impact on a person’s life has become a bonding point for most of these virtual dates. Most bios on Tinder and other apps have become more about the measures to control the virus from spreading than about their personality. With little need to pretend, the connections formed have become more genuine.
Online dating in India during Quarantine
“ I can definitely see a rise in the number of matches but I think its more out of boredom than anything else and the lack of anything better to do” according to Ryan.
Zubin, a DJ in Mumbai thinks “It’s a great opportunity to network and discuss ideas with people, who might be useful in the future. Not like we have any shortage of free time.”
Mehek, an undergrad student says “It's all a very superficial experience to me. Yes, I'm aware they are real people but the main motivation of these dating apps has always been physical appearance. Like yes looks are important, but if they can't hold a conversation how long can I stare at their face?”
While various others are completely dwelling into the online dating scene a few of them have chosen to work on themselves. Which one are you?