Tinder, Bumble and OkCupid are entering a new phase of the pandemic
I have seen my fair share of strange things on dating apps, but it wasn’t until late last month that I started to see videos of women sticking needles in their arms.
The coronavirus vaccine has arrived, and if you are a single person, it is the first sign of light in what has likely been a dark journey of having masked coffees in parks and ending first dates with intimate goodbye waves. It will still be months before the majority of the responsibly uncoupled can re-enter a 6-foot sphere around another human, but for a specific sector of the dating pool who has received the vaccine, the gloves are off. Literally. They can now touch other humans.
The scientific consensus is still out, but at present, it appears that the vaccinated can still transmit the disease to others, so the floodgates haven’t completely opened. Even so, the sight of a vaccination pic will definitely make for an automatic right swipe for many, if not only for the potential of an immune partner, but also for the virtue signal that the potential match has an essential job that’s altruistic enough to warrant early access to the shot.
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It begs the question, how exactly will dating apps navigate this new dichotomy of users who can meet up and safely tongue-kiss each other? Will a new hook-up app called Vaxxxed enter the playing field? Will there be a little verified badge on profiles declaring COVID-19 immunity?
Cursory Googling shows no enterprising new pandemic-profiteers on the horizon (although there is a new app for those who’ve leaned into their Twitter addiction), and the dating apps themselves have been mum about plans to implement any type of vaccination verification.
Bumble had no comment, and Tinder only affirmed that messaging and swiping are up double-digits from where they were last February. OKCupid supplied the most detailed information, which was that mentions of “vaccine” on profiles has increased 30% between October and November, and 64% between November and December. In an in-app matching question, 72% of respondents said they’d take the vaccine, 3% already had it, 16% were still deciding and 9% opposed. Their users generally seem cautious based on data, with 175,000 people canceling dates because of lockdown measures and 165,000 saying they would cancel if the other person refused to stay socially distant.
As far as anecdotal details go, I have sacrificed my personal dating app bio in search of sources (“if you got vaxxed and want to be interviewed, super swipe me, promise it won’t be weird”) but the few women that have responded haven’t seemed too swayed by the vax pics they’ve seen, going so far as to not reply to matches who posted a photo of their vaccination card (a doctor, no less!). One woman interviewed who posted a vaccination pic hasn’t seen much difference in activity on the app, except that the photo serves as a talking point to weed out the anti-vaccination crowd, and having immunity hasn’t really changed her outlook.
So time will tell just how influential the coronavirus vaccine will be for online dating, but until we reach herd immunity, swipe safely and keep your distance during those awkward goodbyes.
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