Love. One emotion that has stayed with humankind ever since it began. It’s impossible to exactly say what it is, but one thing we definitely know is that it has been the most powerful emotion humans have had. It has evolved in several ways, going hand in hand with human society and progress. Perhaps presenting a special rock with some grunts in the Stone Age, building monuments that cement your love in time, writing love letters for your beloved from far away, paying one rupee per minute at the PCO to just ask how their day was, love has existed in numerous innocent forms all through our lives. Love today? Shifting to the internet. Perhaps a special tag on some Instagram post, or a long paragraph conveying your emotions on Whatsapp; the internet is the new medium for expressing love.
In times like these, when we are all stuck at home, unable to commute or communicate physically, the only way we are connected is via digital media. Life is still moving on, and so is love. The hardest famines and longest wars have been unable to stop humans from finding love. Why would the coronavirus succeed? Recent data shows a huge increase in traffic on dating sites like Tinder, Bumble, and OkCupid. Technology today is enabling love, and it is visible. There has been an increase in the engagement matrix in the last 90 days on these apps. Chat lengths have increased drastically. People are communicating more. More contacts have been made, more messages sent, and more people have subscribed to these apps.
While these were the dating sites, love also means marriage for a lot of us. Matrimonial sites have seen traffic doubly increasing. It’s funny how we are all in a time of distress, and many of us have chosen to use this time to perhaps find someone who could make us feel better. Employees of matrimonial sites in India like Jeevansathi, Shaadi.com, and BharatMatrimony have agreed that there used to be a cultural barrier of some sort when it came to Indians using these sites. However, with the COVID lockdown imposed, people have started overcoming the hesitation to use these sites to find a match. “Shaadi”, or marriage in India is almost a festival of its own, and marketers of these sites have understood how to capitalize on the demand right now for finding potential matches.
Matrimonial websites have expanded, now catering to a lot of communities individually as well. You have different websites for finding Agarwals, Yadavs, Kayasthas, and so on. Families have accepted this change wholeheartedly, as it makes finding matches for their children way easier. Parent created profiles have increased by 30%. These websites have, in the last 90 days added a lot of features to their product. Websites now offer video interaction between families, right from the comfort of your homes. Multiple websites are working on expanding into the catering and marriage planning part of marriages too. Now, instead of just setting up a match, you can also plan and book your Shaadi details on these websites. They also now offer home weddings, which are in compliance with all government guidelines. It’s almost as easy as booking a flight ticket. I wonder if that’s a good thing. There’s one thing I cannot deny though. Really good services are available with a lot of options, and the internet is helping a lot of people out there find love.
There are a lot of problems dating and matrimonial websites have to take care of. Security is a priority on these sites. Phone numbers are not required for video interaction, which keeps data secure. A single error could lead to a drop in the number of users. The websites have also ensured that their sites are fast, and visually appealing, considering the fact that today’s youth switches from app to app the second they get bored. One thing that caught my attention was that all the reports and officials have agreed that while traffic has increased in the lockdown, revenue for these sites hasn’t. This happens because most of these sites make their money through subscriptions and advertisements. With the lockdown in effect, ad companies are not investing any money at the moment, which is why these sites too, are failing at generating revenue. India being a price-sensitive market, most people do not buy subscriptions either and prefer using the free versions. Bargaining when it comes to even finding love is perhaps the most Indian thing we do.
Indian dating sites have not focused on the LGBTQ community yet. There do exist specialized apps catering to that audience too like Grindr, Zoe, Just She etc. Apps like Tinder have also become more sensitive to every type of person in the world, with them recently expanding their gender selection, and adding sexual orientation and gender identity to its profiles. It feels good to see websites on the internet trying to be more aware and woke and truly helping everyone, in finding love.
One thing is for certain, love is the one power that has kept us going till now, and I hope it always will.