No doubt, the usage of dating apps exponentially grew during the pandemic. If you are reading this, chances are you might have already heard of or used one. Honestly, there is nothing wrong with using one when the apps are available for public usage, and especially during lockdowns when socialising is the need of the hour for mental health or whatsoever reasons. Don’t be hurried now to join the bandwagon, as miscellaneous questions hang in around their experience and usage.
To come up with this analysis, we have done our groundwork, experimented by making our hands dirty, and of course, that’s how we understand the practicalities, flaws and sentiments. Isn’t it? And to those matches – ‘subjects‘ who tried to bait us during this process, thanks for helping us gather the inputs!
This analysis focuses more on the ‘usage aspects’ and we are not interested in tabulating the feature comparison, functionalities of any of the apps. Presented are our experiences or insights for India considering various scenarios and cultural aspects, which may vary globally, segregated through the below ten sections:
Let’s see some objectives that a general user may fulfil with the help of these apps. Some of the words mentioned below are put forward by the app companies themselves.
Bored, Chat, Couldn’t Travel, Date, Dinner, Exploring Something New, Find a Crush, Find Better Half, Friends or Colleagues in hometowns, Friends with benefits or maybe an intimate relationship, Fun, Interests, Loneliness, Looking for a serious relationship, Love, Make new friends, Marriage, Meet Age Gaped, Meet Friends, Meet new people, Meet Strangers, Need someone for a date, No one to party around, Romance, Share feelings, Simply chit chat, Singles, Social Discovery, Someone to talk, Timepass, Travel buddies.
Though not an exhaustive list, one may use the dating apps for any of the choices above. Thanks to the online dating apps, if you found a new friend, interest, date or better half, consider yourself lucky!
When matched and intentions are mutual, no one will have a problem. After all, there won’t be problems in this world when everyone is surrounded by only ‘good’ intentions alone. So, far so good!
2. USP (Unique Selling Proposition) or Uniqueness of the Service
- Swipe in from a specific location to meet new people
- Cross Paths or Locations to meet new people
- Swipe and Make the First Move (gender preference) to meet new people
- Swipe, Video Call to meet a prospective date or probably a stranger
So, the entire usage revolves around location, meeting new people – basically strangers, texting and video. Generally, these apps were built adding various functionalities, limitations, features on top of this core purpose. Some apps need users to pay premium charges to even use the basic functionality. The business model revolves around the same.
While the profiles you get to meet and match may or may not always be as expected, various data points such as account type (free or premium), age, gender, profile bio, picture, location, interests, social accounts connected, the profiles you liked and disliked will help in curating your prospective future matches. This is the expected behaviour.
A user can use these dating apps for any of the choices mentioned in the ‘Pros’ Section provided you are of legal age and accept the terms and conditions at the time of profile creation.
Be alerted, the definition of ‘Usage’, ‘Purpose’, or ‘Dating app’ though defined by specific dating platforms, is again perceived differently by different users based on their abilities or interests. Hence, the usage of dating apps has multiple viewpoints from different perspectives of lives.
5. Experiences to cite
- Few genuine profiles exist, who are really looking forward to fulfilling any of the purposes discussed above. But finding these rare profiles really wastes a lot of your time and resources.
- One very bad experience to put forward is the use of these dating platforms as free parking or advertising page for the so-called influencers (*we shall discuss this separately).
- Secondly, don’t feel bad if you were greeted with a bio – not much active here, follow me on… or message me on so and so ID.
- Users don’t have time to converse if luckily matched.
- Profiles appear to be created as click baits, bots for generating interest among users to join the dating platforms and showcase an active userbase to investors.
- Most of the users are nonsense users, who will not be worth your time as they themselves are clueless on what to expect from a dating app.
- Scammers – Maybe individuals, groups or corporates who set a ‘honey trap’ or ‘honeypot’ with certain vested interests.
- Meet someone, talk for a day, on the third day they claim they are in crisis, need money and ask you to transfer money.
- Meet someone, talk for a few days, and suddenly unmatch.
- Someone matches, Say a ‘Hi’ and never talk back.
- Someone matches, if it vibes, you become friends or maybe more.
- Someone matches, they talk and lure individuals, who are already looking for some company. They make sure to talk sweet more than your nearest or dearest ones and try to trap users. Be it any gender, chances are high you will fall for them. They make sure you get to feel the experience of goodness and lure to trap you for whatsoever benefits or reasons. If you have a very intimate connection with them, chances are you will be exploited big time.
- Someone matches, they just want to meet you and make you spend for their luxurious needs or 5-star experiences.
- Stranger matches, but these are corporate honey pots. They make sure whatever they do falls in the legal guidelines and purposefully do everything from gaining your trust to knowing you inside out and ultimately making you land in trouble in a big way. Their agenda is to break the person’s character, morals and exploit the scenario by targetting specific users (on their weaknesses or mental condition) whom they can’t face in a straightforward manner. They also reach to an extent of marriage to break bonds in family and create disharmony using cultures, customs or traditional practices of specific individuals.
- Certain profiles are timepass users. Don’t spend your efforts or time on them.
- Stranger matches; very immediately messages you – I’m impressed with your profile or bio and want to talk with you, gives you a contact number and asks you to message on a different app. The next minute, they ask your location and hurry you to go to the bathroom and quickly make video calls with inappropriate acts. Actually, these scammers play a video (impersonating a person) on the other side and make sure you appear in the video and record the screen. They make sure you end up getting caught in the act.
- Some individuals only target pretty girls by showing their social popularity (follower counts), promising to make them influencers or for short film opportunities for the benefits they are looking for. The girls may go to a level where family counselling won’t be of any help to change their mindsets. They just get mind spoiled (*we shall discuss this separately).
- Charge for every single preference, activity or selection and offer a very awful experience and don’t properly refund even after reporting. Charge for location preference but the algorithm doesn’t even comply with the preferences and give wrong selection choices. Certain services proudly boast of making money, but make most of their profits giving wrong choices (consequences of certain users filling wrong profile details and some are algorithmic) and is filled with full of nonsense users. But still, users end up paying with expectations best known to them.
6. Data and Privacy
It is sceptical about the practices these apps follow on the personal data and privacy measures involved. Though some apps claim to be secure and private, the weird self-regulations they follow are very suspicious and not satisfactory. We have also earlier experimented by only installing the dating apps alone on smartphones and the data consumption patterns (especially uploads) are very abnormal for the functionality they offer.
Also, these apps have access to voice, text messaging, background services, gallery, file storage, location, camera and whatnot – they can even act like RATs on your devices with every permission you grant to use the apps. So, if you blindly trust them and explode your intimate side or the inner side on these apps, be prepared for the unexpected.
From a platform perspective, it is very much required to monitor or screen the users’ activities and other reportings as well. But this leaves a tie between privacy and the platform authenticity objectives. So, if you are really trying to get into them for something meaningful, please be informed this is all a mess.
- To get out from some sort of depression or mental health issues when one tries to search for someone they find solace with instead end up losing peace and land into more troubles and anxiety issues.
- One may lose conscious behaviour in the feeling of loneliness and fall victim to any unforeseen traps.
- One’s weakness may help scammers target easily and the person ends up helpless.
- Not only the individual (who is the victim of any bad incident) using the platform but an unforeseen bad incident may also break the family, pose a risk of theft of confidential information or competitor benefitting out of a planned ‘honey pot.’
- One can land into troubles that they can even think of imagining in nightmares.
- One cannot even share any mishaps with their friends or family, which may lead to intense thoughts or decisions.
- You waste your time, energy, focus, resources and most importantly self-confidence.
- The career you have built, or the business your parents have built all the while will be at risk in case of a misshapen. We never know what is the intention of that new stranger we have met suddenly out of nowhere. They may act behind the scenes with bad interests and make sure you land into trouble.
- You may meet a date in person, booze at a place of choice, fall asleep and you never know what photographs of you are clicked and there you got trapped.
8. Parenting and Other Safety concerns
- You need to right away talk with your children, even if they are 18 and above, and check what’s happening with them. Sometimes there are chances where they are in a situation they cannot share anything.
- You never know what information or pictures your children are sharing with the so-called ‘dates‘ or new virtual relationships.
- Make sure your generations are safe and sound during these hard times.
- Your children may be a victim in the name of marriage or relationship and end up breaking themselves and your family too. The scammers just target your positive spirits and break you down.
- If you are in the early days of your career, for now, maybe things appear fine. You never know after 10 years when you are in a significant position in any company, the acts that you have mistakenly done will pull you completely down.
We understand this is more stressful, but be advised to take special care during these times. Things are not as good outside as they appear to be and everyone out there is in need of money. So, things may turn upside down for whatsoever reason.
Although voluntary, it’s so humiliating that, with the kind of profiles, the mess these apps actually pave way for and for inviting troubles to our doorsteps, we need to pay premium charges. While we understand the costs (platform development, maintenance, web services, security etc.) to keep the platforms running, the pricing of these apps is not at all reasonable. Hefty pricing to exploit the current scenario of lockdown. Those apps which don’t even deserve a premium are charging hefty for a worthless experience.
Even telcos, who offer a worldly experience via the internet at users’ fingertips, are not charging even closer to what these apps are charging on their lowest available plan. We have been testing or having an eye on these apps in the pre-pandemic era too, but now the dating app service providers have limited the features and users are expected to pay for more swipes, location change, hide age, hide location, select specific gender etc.
After all, it’s an open market and their business model and we have no say.
Generally, we expect the internet to be resourceful (remember the perception of definition changes per individual choices) and some positives and negatives are beyond control and depend on self choices.
While one significant reason for the exponential rise of internet pollutants (those who lack the basic skills or abilities to handle the internet) is the pricing lever (which appears to be disrupted by vested interests) it is upon us how susceptible we are to the power of the internet.
We have only three points to conclude:
- If you are fortunate, you may end up with a date, friend, someone interesting, or better half.
- If you are unfortunate or specifically targetted you/your family/company employed with will land into unforeseen troubles.
- If you or your close ones have a purpose in life, better stay away from these online dating apps and find solace in yourself, your closed circle and be at peace.
Do share our analysis with someone you are concerned about. Until then, Happy and Safe Dating Experiences everyone!