Amid the pandemic, users have turned to the dating app as another form of social media
Over the course of the pandemic, what was once known as a dating app transformed into a new and modified form of social media. Because everyone has been stuck inside, many students have turned to Tinder to help them stay connected and entertained over the past few months. Although this dating app was always popular in college settings before the pandemic hit, the sudden and severe social isolation has led people who never imagined using such an app to become avid swipers.
Savannah Pluma, a second-year biological systems engineering major, is among this crowd. Pluma finally gave in and downloaded the app in December of 2020.
“It’s honestly just been a source of entertainment, a way to pass the time and see new faces,” Pluma said.
Before the pandemic, Pluma along with many others saw Tinder as much more of a commitment to actually “finding something,” whether that be love or even just a date. However, as time has gone on this past year, many have come to see it more as a safe and low-stakes way to either just see or talk to the people around them.
Unconventional as it may be, Tinder is aiding in keeping the UC Davis community, as well as the entire country, connected. Between March and August of 2020, Tinder saw over a 15% increase in first-time downloads. As the shelter in place orders were enforced, swiping left and right became a new pastime. This shift in Tinder’s original use of being a way for people to meet up, to essentially just another form of social media, shows everyone’s need for connection right now.
While some downloaded Tinder as a form of entertainment to combat the incredible lack of social interaction of the past year, others have really made the most out of this app and created brand new friendships without ever leaving the house. Sophia Weiss, a second-year history and international relations double major, is among this group of pandemic-era Tinder users.
“I made friends [on Tinder] those first few months from all over that I’m still in touch with on Instagram,” Weiss said.
This Tinder-match to Instagram-mutuals pipeline is not specific to the pandemic, but it is possible it has been made more prevalent as many social butterflies are missing “just talking to random people,” as Pluma said. Tinder is providing the opportunity for all sorts of connections— random conversations to start up between bored strangers; an easy way to remember how to flirt for those who might be out of practice; even the chance to run into old friends and take part in the awkward dance of “What does it mean to match with a strictly platonic friend?”
Connor Wolf, a second-year environmental science and management major, took to online dating apps during the pandemic just as many others did, and while the way he used Tinder was modified, he made it work and stayed safe.
“I made the first date a Zoom date as a way to make sure that I wouldn’t risk any potential exposure,” Wolf said about meeting someone new during lockdown.
Wolf has proven that real connections can still be found for those hoping for more than a new pastime—it just takes more “patience and mutual understanding,” Wolf said.
Sadly, not everyone has gotten the memo about the new Tinder under COVID-19.
“I’ve definitely run into some [Tinder matches] who take it super seriously […] they get pretty rude when they find out I have no intention of meeting up mid-pandemic,” Weiss said.
For some, it may be hard to accept the new and different ways in which this dating app is now being used, but it’s important to understand how helpful even the simplest form of social interaction can be in keeping us all grounded. For now, Tinder remains a modified form of social media, but as vaccinations get rolled out, who knows? Maybe it’ll go back to the way it was before, or perhaps this app (along with the rest of the world) will be forever changed by COVID-19.
Written by: Angie Cummings — firstname.lastname@example.org