“I was on the line at the supermarket, having finally secured a pack of toilet paper, when my phone just started pinging at me.”
“Like rapid fire. I glance down at it, and it’s all these matches, and messages via Tinder. On Thursday at 9:30 am, seems kind of strange, right? It was off the charts. But it’s the new normal.”
This is an actual testimonial.
Love in the time of corona is intensely felt. Or more accurately, people are intensely swiping right. It makes sense to some extent. As a result of COVID-19 and social distancing policies, more and more Australians are working and studying from home and that means a spike in dating app usage.
Boredom equates to more passionate swiping — so much so that Tinder and Bumble have released official in-app Public Service Announcements (PSA).
“Tinder is a great place to meet new people. While we want you to continue to have fun, protecting yourself from the Coronavirus is more important. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
• Wash your hands frequently
• Carry hand sanitizer
• Avoid touching your face
• Maintain social distance in public gatherings.”
The PSA’s sparked humour and widespread interest, as people wondered, when did dating apps become our new doctor? And why, in the time of social distancing, were people more than ever before interested in hooking up? Were quarantine flings the new thing?
Okay, so certainly boredom has a role to play in the induction of a panoply of right-swiping. However, we can’t ignore that love is more intensely felt during a time of crisis.
Yes, love in the times of calamity has long been explored — and the idea that love is a source of ontological security. In times of crisis when feelings of risk and insecurity are heightened, the door to love, connection, relationships or even a hook-up is widened. Couple this with a heap of spare time and a speedy Internet connection and you end up with a dating app swiping juggernaut.
Alongside this, as popular memes have described — it might be the end of the world we once knew, so what about those of us that never found love?
Nothing like a last-ditch attempt to discover our Heathcliff. Although he’ll be less likely to be wondering the moors, and more likely to be sitting at home watching re-runs of Friends and eating two-minute noodles.
But what of the social distancing? Aren’t we supposed to be keeping our hands and our germs to ourselves? Kind of defeats the purpose of the hook-up. Well, dating apps have you covered from that regard too, with most of them having in-app video-call capacities and other chat infrastructures.
Bumble’s new video chat feature allows users to have “digital dates” with their matches on the apps across every mode (date, business or BFF). As the below tweet suggests, Hinge is also looking to normalise dating over video chat.
Here’s another trend that might surprise you. Worldwide dating app reports have indicated a new tendency for Tinder Gold users — many are changing their relationship radius to red-zones to get a sense of what is actually happening on the ground.
As Cameron Wilson writes, “Most Tinder users use the app to match with people nearby, for obvious reasons. But the world’s mats used dating app has a premium feature, Passport, that allows a user with Tinder Plus or Tinder Gold memberships to choose to swipe in any location — like, say Wuhan — no matter where they are.”
The result is a capacity to connect and communicate with people in virus hotspots to get information.
When we considered a global crisis of this magnitude, most of us probably didn’t envisage this much fighting over toilet paper. We certainly didn’t think that dating apps would evolve the way they have, becoming a way for people to stay connected and keep each other informed about a growing pandemic.
Featured Image: Warner Bros