Online dating during the Corona Virus pandemic has become wildly popular, more so than ever before. People are using dating apps such as Tinder or Bumble to communicate with others while stuck inside their homes. Tinder has officially made the decision that their premium program has become free for everyone on the app to use during the quarantine. One of the features, called Passport, allows the user to place themselves anywhere in the world, to communicate with people from all over the globe. This feature is primarily used when the user is travelling and wants to meet people from where they are going to, but now it opens doors for communication that is desperately needed in times like these.
According to Tinder’s Website, “In these trying times, while we all know we need to stay home, this doesn’t mean we have to be alone with our thoughts. Having someone to talk to can make a world of difference. And that’s why we decided that starting this week we’ll make our Passport feature, free to everyone, everywhere. This update is currently rolling out to all members in the latest version of Tinder (11.12 on iOS and Android), and will be available through April 30th. Our hope is that you use the Passport feature to virtually transport yourself out of self-quarantine to anywhere in the world. You can check in on folks in their hometown, college town, or sister city, and find those across the world who are going through the same things. If nothing else, you can learn how to say “hey” in another language.”
Bumble has a similar premium feature called “Travel Mode”. Bumble’s website says,
“With Bumble’s Travel feature, you can change your location to another city before or during your trip — and let locals know you’re just in town for a short stretch. To use the feature, first select “Travel to…” in your settings. Then, pick the location you’re planning to visit. That’s it! Easy. It costs five Bumble Coins — the currency within the Bumble app — for seven days. (You can extend for as long as you’d like if you’re loving your visit, of course!) Your location will automatically be set to the city center of your chosen destination, and an indicator in your profile will let potential matches know that you’re “traveling.” On their website, they have not commented about making their premium service free during the pandemic.
An article from Time Magazine titled, “The Coronavirus Is Changing How We Date. Experts Think the Shifts May Be Permanent” talk about how online dating during the Corona Virus will change the way we communicate forever. The author, Eliana Dockertman, talks about the many ways that we’re using technology to evolve our communication. Some of the most phenomenal and noteworthy are that Skype/ Facetime sex will evolve, an email chain that connects people who have similar interests was created by college students, and “speakeasy” style places to meet up to physically touch each other have the potential to emerge.
Some people are even worried that the lack of physical communication will cause problems for the evolution of humanity in the future. In the article, they interviewed a touch expert at Berkeley named Kelter who said, ““If you look at it from an evolutionary perspective, for millions of years we had tactile contact like hugs. Every relationship has been built and held together by complicated nonverbal language, beginning with parent and child. It’s part of our social fabric. I worry about what happens when as a society we lose those modes of communication for a time.”
Before the pandemic, online dating numbers were looking relatively positive. According to Pew Research Center, three in ten Americans had used a dating site. According to Time Magazine, “Bumble reports a 21% increase in messages sent in Seattle, 23% increase in New York City and 26% increase in San Francisco since March 12, a day after the World Health Organization labeled the coronavirus a global pandemic. The use of in-app video chatting on Bumble, a feature many users didn’t even know existed before the coronavirus spread, increased 93% across the country between March 13—the day President Donald Trump declared a national emergency—and March 27, with in-app calls and video chats averaging 29 minutes. Hinge, similarly, saw a 30% increase in messaging on the app in March, compared to February, and has responded by launching an in-app “date from home” feature that, if both users agree, launches a video chat or phone call.” This is significant growth on any standard, especially during a pandemic.
Tinder user Andrew Horst, a senior Bloomsburg University accounting major, says “I enjoy using [Tinder Passport] for communicating with people from different cultures. I set my location to Spain and am using it to practice my Spanish skills. Only downside is when I don’t understand certain words or how to put something I might have to look up words or conjugations. Language barrier and time differences are the top two downsides.” Another Tinder user, Ben Roark, a senior Bloomsburg University theatre major, says Tinder is “just something to do when bored. Plus it’s always nice to try and connect with new people.”
Physical connection has always been an essential to the sanity of humanity, but the closest thing we have at the current moment is virtual connection. If this sounds appealing, you can download Tinder or Bumble on any smart phone.