Columbia students weigh in on dating apps during pandemic – The Columbia Chronicle
As Gen Z students struggle with social anxiety, isolation, and fear of contracting the COVID-19 virus, meeting new people has become anything but the college experience our parents still remember. For this reason, many have resorted to swiping left and right to meet partners, casual encounters, or new friends online.
Kenzie Iszard, a sophomore, said boredom during quarantine led her to download Tinder and Bumble. If her potential date was unvaccinated, Iszard considered it a dealbreaker, and before meeting anyone in person, she asked if they had tested positive for COVID-19 or had been recently exposed to the virus. .
Since the pandemic hit in March 2020, most dating apps have added new profile featureslike the ability to display vaccination status and the ability to filter user feeds based on their comfort level with COVID-19.
“It is difficult to know if people are as [COVID-19] safe than you on dating apps or getting vaccinated,” said Emily Ferneau, a junior fashion merchandising student. “I know a lot of [apps] ask on the profile but not everyone is honest and not everyone even adds them to their profile.”
Ferneau said if she felt like kissing someone she met on a dating app, she would first ask for their proof of vaccinations because some of her family members are high-risk people.
Despite COVID-19, more people than ever are using dating apps. According to Annual statistics of Tinder users, the app generated more annual revenue and had more subscribers than ever before in 2021, growing from 9.1 million subscribers in the first quarter of 2021 to 10.6 million by the end of the year. In the United States, people between the ages of 18 and 24 make up the highest percentage of app users at 35%.
“[Dating] got a little more comfortable with people online because you can talk to them and get to know them better, and [you’re] able to set a boundary that you might not be able to do when meeting people in person,” Iszard said.
Taylore Mountain is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist at the Chicago Center for Relationship Counseling, 5100 N. Ravenswood Ave. She works with college-aged and older clients, some of whom use online dating.
Mountain said the pandemic has helped many people learn more about their wants and needs in a relationship, making dating apps a more intentional way to date.
“There are apps for really anyone in any type of situation they want, and there’s a lot of freedom to express what you’re looking for in a relationship or friendship, whatever that may be” , Mountain said.
Mountain is a dating app user herself, using Hinge, Match, Plenty of Fish, Her and eHarmony over a 10-year span, and has dated several people she has met online. She said her personal dating experience inspired her to create a instagram and one coaching website to help codependent people realize their potential.
When working with a client in the online dating process, Mountain said it’s important to identify their top wants and needs and manage their flow accordingly with in-app filters, such as age, sexuality, height and vaccination status.
Alex Murphy, a young film student, said that as a queer person they prefer to meet people online.
“I always feel safer meeting someone online when their presence is promoted as a queer person,” Murphy said.
Zanida Corujo, a second-year music student, also prefers meeting people online first to avoid being “mask-sina new term coined during COVID-19 that refers to being fished by someone wearing a face mask.
Students interviewed for this story agreed that the pandemic has forced them to rely more on dating apps to make connections, including Sage Brahmstedt, a young film student.
But Brahmstedt said online dating felt “detached from reality” compared to real-life dating.
“Literally, it’s like when you’re playing a game,” Brahmstedt said. “You literally swipe left and right, kind of like you’re playing Marble Blast on the computer. Like, oh, ‘Let’s see if they like me back, and I get a match.’ Ding ding ding. You win.”
And some students find what they’re looking for, no matter what. Reyna Zuno, a senior communications major, met her current boyfriend on Tinder, and Breslin Webb, a freshman dance major, met her ex-boyfriend, also a Columbia student, on Tinder.
Even Carrie Bradshaw has found a connection on dating apps after her husband’s death in the new ‘Sex and the City’ reboot, ‘And Just Like That’. Fans, however, pointed out the unrealistic nature of finding the seemingly perfect match after just three swipes, according to Cosmopolitan.
Corujo said that although the convenience of dating apps has made it harder for her to meet people in real life, she has gained personal empowerment and self-confidence through online dating during COVID-19.
“Personally, I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin. As a woman of color, as a plus size woman of color, I didn’t fit in with the people around me. … No one was really really interested in the POC,” Corujo said. “But, the apps made me feel more confident knowing there was someone out there who found me attractive.”