I believe the whole premise of a dating app is meeting people in person. The formalities of initiating the conversation and picking a place are just means to move the conversation to a coffee table.
What else would you use a dating app for?
The lockdown phase globally and in India seems to be giving dating apps a new definition. It’s obvious that you cannot meet anyone through dating apps at this time but surprisingly people have still been swiping sporadically.
So why are they still using dating apps if there’s very little chance of them meeting someone outside of the digital space?
I’m Just Bored...
The consensus among many users on dating apps seems to be that they’re bored. And it’s obvious. Social-distancing has forced people to stay indoors which has led people to figure ways of finding new people to talk to.
There’s only so much you can talk to with friends. Therefore, the citizens of online dating apps have figured that dating apps are their best chance of killing boredom.
We spoke to Prateek who works in a Noida-based media company and he said that he observed a growth in the number of matches he got during this phase.
"“I’ve been using Bumble for months now and one of the changes I’ve noticed since the COVID-19 lockdown is that the number of matches have gone up. Also, I’ve often come across accounts mentioning in their bio that they are here only because of the coronavirus lockdown.”" - Prateek, Bumble user
Aarti who is a freelancer based out of Mumbai isn’t an active user on these apps yet finds time to go online during the lockdown. Though her priorities are different.
"“For me, using the apps during the lockdown has been just another distraction, something to waste a few minutes on once in a while. I’m not an active user, even under normal circumstances – but now, with the option of seeing the people I already see off the table, I probably browse (terrible as that sounds) a tad more often because of boredom. Though, there is a flip-side – I don’t like texting, especially about all the inane details that must be discussed in the beginning. I usually head off questions by saying we’ll talk about it when we meet. Now, God knows when that will be!”" - Aarti, FreelancerThere Are More People Swiping
The lockdown period has been a boom time for most of the dating apps. Not only have the number of dating app downloads increased but the conversations on these apps have grown by folds.
"“Daily conversations have been up an average of 20 percent around the world, and the average length of the conversations is 25 percent longer. In India, conversations have been up an average of 39 percent and the average length of conversations is 28 percent longer.”" - Tinder
I really don’t know whether isolation makes one a good conversationalist but Tinder’s numbers seem to suggest that.
Another widely known dating app in India, Bumble, seems to be doing well during the shutdown. In India alone, Bumble saw a 25 percent increase in average messages sent during the initial period of social distancing (13-22 March).
Speaking to a Bumble spokesperson we also learned that there had been a spike over the past two weeks in adoption amongst millennials.
Dating Apps Playing Cupid
Dating apps are playing their part in making sure they advocate the message of social distancing among their users.
Most of the communication has been via in-app notifications where apps are telling users to find new ways of staying in touch.
As a promotional offer, Tinder has made its Passport feature free for all users temporarily where they can swipe at any location in the world.
It’s great that Tinder is offering this feature which according to the company has seen a 25 percent growth in India. However, it does have a catch. To access unlimited swipes and other features you have to pay.
Prateek who is an engineer based out of Delhi says that despite having access to the Passport feature he still gets limited swipes in the area which defeats the entire purpose of exploring new locations.
Bumble and Hinge aren’t offering any promotional feature but are pushing ways to keep the spark going by moving to video and voice calls. While Hinge doesn’t have a video call feature Bumble added it in 2019.
Ravi who is a Bumble user from Delhi feels that this period is just another way for dating apps to push their paid features by tempting users with limited period free trials.
“They are just kinda preaching the users to stay at home and about social distancing and they are spreading these instructions by obviously marketing basic features such as video calls and voice calls.”
Even Grinder a dating app for the LGBTQ community is offering a 7-day free trial period and access to some paid features in multiple locations as a promotional offer. All of this with a social message to stay inside.
Make Sense to Be On Dating Apps During Isolation?
There are different schools of thought on whether being on dating apps right now is helpful in any way.
Priya from Indore who is a journalist doesn’t buy the idea of dating apps during the lockdown period.
"“I don’t know why people are even active on these apps. I see everyone writing and making videos about these video call dates and balcony dates and here I am talking to someone who is depressed and never wants to meet or the other option just wants to sext all the damn time. It all seems pointless.” " - Priya, journalist
Yes, there are some users who are finding meaningful conversations and are laying the groundwork to possibly meet after the lockdown but a majority of the users are using these dating apps as boredom busters or just to kill time.
(The names have been changed in the story due to privacy concerns)
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