I received the news that users of popular dating apps such as Hinge, Bumble and Tinder will be able to add ‘vaccine stickers’ to their profile with a heavy heart.
Frankly, I didn’t think dating in 2021 could get any worse, but here we are.
Modern romance has already been sorely eroded by the pandemic, and this is the final straw. Dating in lockdown was frankly as romantic as a trip to the hygienist – it’s very hard to create any sense of intimacy when you’re walking in a freezing park, two metres apart, wearing a mask, hands raw with sanitiser.
Single people, in particular, suffered greatly during the pandemic with the sheer lack of real connection possible in a one-walk-a-day-socially-distanced-fashion world.
It was either settle down and place house with the first person you didn’t hate or live the life of Bridget Jones: eating ice cream, getting drunk alone and swear yourself off men and dating completely for a whole year – neither of which are particularly appealing options.
I went down the route of intense, unrelenting self-development during lockdown; deciding the relationship that mattered most to me, and the one that needed the most healing, was the one with myself. I realised there’s something very interesting in our need to be coupled up and I wanted to delve deeper into that myself – deciding instead to get curious about why being single is so damn hard in this day and age, and what we can do to be better on our own.
Now that social restrictions are easing, I hoped that dating would pick up again. However, it seems that an after-effect of a year of distance is people dating in a more manic, existentialist way, so desperate to lose their single status after the harsh, cold, lockdown winter we’ve collectively survived.
Romance, I think, will be further impacted by the vaccine stickers, as we find yet another reason to jump to conclusions about other people and make judgements against a set of poorly defined rules of engagement. It’s further limiting the box of what your ‘type’ is and cutting down opportunities to meet, perhaps, non-like minded potential matches.
Thanks to the apps, dating is already such a transactional experience – we are a generation trying to swipe, like and match our way to true happiness in this mad, post-lockdown fervour, like it’s one big game – a race to find a partner in case another pandemic hits.
The stickers feel like yet another way that we are making rules for romance, taking away the spontaneity and chance of it, and instead creating a checklist for potential matches to meet.
Love isn’t like shopping for a car. Romance isn’t a tick-box exercise. Life is more beautiful when you don’t try to control every small detail. Real romance is about spontaneity, chance encounters, first dates with some mystery and intrigue included.
People will increasingly be dating only others that share their own views
Dating apps lay you bare, forcing you to expose your personal information, holiday snaps, Instagram profile, your likes and wants – the whole thing is frankly so raw and embarrassing, but on top of that, I now have to share my medical records too?
What happened to mystery? What happened to not knowing everything about someone before your first date? We have an unrivalled amount of access to other people in the dating pool through these apps – it’s overwhelming enough, all the swiping, liking and social media stalking making modern dating a minefield.
Add into the mix yet another piece of information about ourselves to disclose, and my question is, what purpose does this really serve?
Are you going to date someone solely because they are vaccinated? Are you going to discard someone because they’re not? If so, I wish your potential matches luck, but that’s a mentality I don’t want any part of.
The choice to have a vaccine is shrouded in politics. I don’t really want to open up about my politics with someone I’ve never spoken to before. I want someone to at least buy me a drink before they reveal that they’re a Tory, you know?
It puts too much onus on the user to relay their politics in such an exposing way and creates further divides in society between people solely for their beliefs.
I already feel uncomfortable with the idea of disclosing political affiliations and education on apps such as Hinge and Inner Circle, as it can lead people to make assumptions about you before you’ve even exchanged a word.
It means people will increasingly be dating only others that share their own views – the vaccinated pairing off with the vaccinated, where the anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists are off snogging each other in a bush – and thus the echo chamber of society only grows.
These apps are not built on the quality of conversations, but the sheer quantity – and giving users yet another box to tick means more potential matches will be discarded simply because they don’t meet certain requirements.
You might have the perfect person out there for you, but if they haven’t got the jab in their arm, you may not even consider them. Think about that for a second.
Another problem is that these apps already have so many lies within them. There’s no way to prove that someone is telling the truth about having had the vaccine, and I think the potential for mistrust only grows the more time you spend interacting on the apps.
Why give the opportunity for something else to lie about? The apps should be working towards making themselves a place of trust more than anything, not medical misinformation.
And lastly, you have to consider people who can’t have the vaccine for medical reasons. Should they miss out on meeting a potentially great partner because they haven’t had it?
Frankly this is makes the apps less accessible for those with a medical condition and puts them at an unfair disadvantage.
For these reasons, I personally won’t be adding the sticker any time soon. It’s not just about the vaccine – I’m no anti-vaxxer, but I don’t care if that’s what people think.
It’s about freedom. It’s about myself. It’s about opening up choices, not just taking them away.
We should be thinking about all users – those with different political views, opinions, medical conditions and those, like me, that frankly don’t want to share yet another piece of their lives with perfect strangers on the internet.
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