Dai Gaole, a recent college graduate who has worked on several matchmaking projects, told us that he believed the bigger social-networking market had low barriers to entry that contributed to its popularity and affluence of opportunities. “With each shift in mainstream media, there is always a change in the social products people use. But no matter how everything changes, the underlying demand to meet people despite time and location barriers is and always will be there.”
He also acknowledged the effect of the pandemic on social app users. “I don’t know if the fanfare for dating apps and livestreaming platforms will persist, but people are definitely more open to meeting others online in the post-pandemic era.”
Dai’s projects include holding matchmaking events both on-campus in the US and across Chinese cities, where participants fill out surveys to be matched with someone by digital algorithms and complete in person tasks or play games with their partner for a short period of time. With regards to the format, he believes that the face-to-face aspect is absolutely necessary. “A lot of online platforms stop at matching and facilitate nothing further,” he commented, “but I think spending time with someone in person is a high-cost but high-reward step.”
Though Tinder and Tantan won over users looking for efficiency with their “swipe right to like” mechanisms and straightforward profiles consisting of a few pictures and a short bio, Soul, a voice chatting app launched in 2016, aimed to facilitate connections through audio and games. Female-oriented apps like Bumble and its Chinese counterpart Ta Shuo (“She Says”) allow just female users to text their matches first, while apps like Coffee Meets Bagel boast “high quality” matches by limiting daily recommendations and enabling more comprehensive profiles.
After trying out a range of apps, I had come to the conclusion that there was some kind of pattern for each one. For example, many people on Tinder in China were students who went to school abroad, and almost one out of several dozens of swipes would be someone I knew. Tantan was something else – you could get just anyone within a 10-mile radius, and my recommendations went from a high school classmate to a security guard at a nearby supermarket. Ta Shuo users were largely college students and pretty sincere, while a large proportion of my recommendations on Coffee Meets Bagel were not even in the country.
Tinder is also the most popular app among the people I’ve talked to
Since Tinder and Tantan are basically for casual dating, and I was looking for either something serious or nothing at all, my conversations on them rarely lasted for more than one or two days. But the other ones weren’t necessarily better. However, I did get a lot less annoying and inappropriate messages, and their longer profiles substantially widened the range of potential conversation topics.
“I only use Tinder and I feel like it’s fair enough. Both male and female users are choosing and being chosen at the same time. You can also find people with similar niche interests easily through the straightforward bio,” a senior in college told us. “The swiping mechanism is luvfree nedir very efficient and saves a lot of unnecessary trouble,” another student remarked.
If someone is on Bumble and Ta Shuo, they are likely on Tinder already
Different apps definitely appeal to certain groups, however. Female friends who recommended Bumble and Ta Shuo to me said that they liked them because there are “a lot less weird people”. A newer app called “Orange” under Jike, a social app that encourages brief documentations of hobbies and moments, took such “feminist” spirits further by introducing the function of “Dating Kill,” through which female users can drop “bombs” on guys they don’t like – when someone is bombed enough times they are no longer able to use the app unless their profile is changed.