You’d think that months of hard lockdown followed by strict social distancing policies would have people eager to get entangled beneath the sheets. On the contrary, the isolation that walks hand-in-hand with COVID-19 has people longing for the friendships and social settings that they have been deprived of for so long.
Dating apps including Tinder and Bumble are jumping on the bandwagon, setting up platforms that are focused entirely on making and maintaining new buddies, reports Sowetan Live. It’s all about being friend-zoned here.
“There’s a really interesting trend that has been taking place in the connection space, which is this desire to have platonic relationships,” said Bumble founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd. “People are seeking friendship in ways they would have only done offline before the pandemic.”
Introducing Bumble BFF (best friends forever), a feature the company is investing into. It is comprised of about 9% of Bumble’s total monthly active users and “has room to grow as we increase our focus on this space,” continued the CEO.
The only thing getting heated here is the competition between Bumble and its competitor, Match Group, owner of the popular Tinder and Hinge apps. South Korean social media firm, Hyperconnect, is the groups latest addition – which came at a cost of about R24.3 billion. The apps let people chat from across the world using real-time translation.
Friendships are clearly in demand with Hyperconnect’s revenue jumping 50% last year. Meanwhile, another app named Meetup, which helps you meet people with similar interests at local or online events, has seen a 22% rise in new members since January, continues Sowetan Live.
Meetup’s most searched words? “Friends.”
With the gradual easing of COVID-19 restrictions comes the opportunity to meet with people face-to-face. Evercore analyst Shweta Kharjuria said that this fact alone made the business move into the realm of friendships a no-brainer.
Online dating expert and former sociologist for Tinder and Bumble, Jess Carbino, told Reuters that the social isolation fuelled by the pandemic is particularly “staggering” for single people living alone. In response, people are turning to what’s available to them – dating apps and technology – to find friendship and connection.
Will people revert to old ways, namely visiting restaurants, clubs and bars to socialise?
Gay dating app Hornet’s CEO and founder, Christof Wittig, said that “these trends are here to stay. Just like video conferencing and telecommuting.”