By Waithera Kahenu
COVID-19 has disrupted a lot of what was normal; work, socialisation, healthcare and just general living as we know it.
On the socialising front, dating may be the most affected.
People may no longer be meeting randomly at restaurants or bars or going on blind dates but online dating has quickly picked up over the last four months. It’s fascinating to watch these changes in realtime.
Some interesting changes include:
Niche dating. Depending on your personality, career or physical attributes, there is a dating App for you. From the beard gangs to those who work as clowns – yes. The possibilities are endless. Unlike a couple of years back when Apps would run out of matches, now, singles are overwhelmed by the options available.
Social distancing presents a unique challenge to Apps. Since moving offline is now not considered essential, it has pushed Apps to include video options. Video dating is, to shamelessly join the cliche, the new normal. How do we go about this? Singles are going on video dates, using voice notes, playing trivia games etc allowing them to virtually enjoy each other’s company while safely distancing.
Group ‘swiping’ is possible with some Apps. Mind blowing isn’t it? This means you can include your friends, parents to swipe on your behalf and hopefully land you a date. ‘Ship’ is the name.
It also presents a great opportunity for already existing social networks to include dating on their platforms. Facebook Dating has launched in about 20 countries so far, considering they have a lot of information on its users, it makes sense to expand that way.
Tinder has diversified by launching ‘global mode’ which gets rid of physical borders. Users can virtually match with anyone from across the continents not just with people in their immediate vicinity. You can have breakfast in Prague, lunch overlooking the Table Mountains and dinner on the Queen Mary.
The downside to this, however, is dating fatigue is being witnessed across all the platforms. It’s not unique to online platforms, traditional daters are familiar with it.
Experts say they may experience an attitude of indifference coupled with a feeling of depression and hopelessness, exhaustion at the thought of another date, or even giving up all together.
It’s advisable to space dating experiences, ensure users balance between dating and engaging with friends. And more importantly, managing their expectations as they use the Apps.
With that said, it would be interesting to know just how effective the Apps have been in Kenya’s ‘New Normal’, that word again, dating scene.
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