With human interaction practically removed from everyday life, some University of Minnesota students have taken to Tinder to keep themselves entertained.
In a bid to support users during these lonely times, Tinder is making adjustments.
Starting this week, Tinder will offer its normally paid Passport feature to all users of the app for free. This feature gives users control over their location, allowing them to swipe and message with people in cities across the globe with just a quick adjustment to their settings.
Changes have also been made to the Tinder U feature, which connects students from the same universities and those in their area. To allow classmates to stay connected whether they’re on campus or back home, the distance radius has been temporarily removed.
In addition, a Tinder spokesperson said they are seeing lengthier conversations happening in places that are hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Joe Kelly, a psychology and journalism student, has been an on-and-off user since his freshman year in college. Kelly said his usage has increased during quarantine. He went from using the app every other day to three or four times per day.
“A lot of people are conversing at length with me when usually it's just kept to a lot of small talk,” he said.
“But now it's longer conversations — more about each other’s lives.”
In addition, Kelly said he’s had more matches.
“It’s just a way to interact when you don’t have any other venue to do that,” he said.
Aven Gotzion, an accounting student, said that his Tinder habits have remained the same, though he has also noticed more frequent matches.
Gotzion uses the app to interact with people other than his roommates, whom he is isolating with.
“If it's a [random] person, I think it's kind of nice because you can end a conversation whenever you want,” he said.
But not everyone is feeling the urge to use dating apps. Owen Young, a computer science student, created a Tinder account a month and a half ago, hoping to find a relationship.
For Young, social distancing means canceled plans and uncertainty.
“At this point, I feel like it’s kind of useless to start swiping with people,” Young said.
“Maybe I’ll start talking to somebody, and then what are we gonna do? I guess we're just going to talk for the next month and a half?” Young said.
Sydney Kent, a nursing student, has had an increase in activity on her dating apps since she began social distancing.
Though she no longer uses Tinder, Kent uses other dating apps to meet women. And she is making the most of this time — instead of in-person dates, Kent said she has already planned virtual coffee dates.
She sees the silver lining in our current global situation.
“It [social distancing] has encouraged me and other people to put ourselves out there online because everybody’s online and everybody’s lonely,” she said.
“Everyone’s feeling disconnected, so why don’t we all just hang out [virtually]?”
Editor's note: Joe Kelly is a former employee of the Minnesota Daily.