Online dating app Bumble recently started offering matching services to find a BFF [best friend forever] of the same sex. Bumble works similarly to Tinder, except that women make the first move, once a match is made. After completing a profile and uploading photos, users are offered potential matches based on location. Users swipe right to say “yes” and swipe left to reject, kind of like a game. If both parties say “yes”, it’s a match and contact info is shared. With Bumble females have 24-hours to contact a match, otherwise it disappears. This is to help prevent harassing messages being sent from men to women.
Bumble expanded the platform for friend matching. Users can switch from finding love to swiping right for a new BFF based on a few photos and a profile. Friendship, however, is based on more than just looks. We make decisions instantly when we meet someone based on all sorts of things, many of which are non-verbal and can’t be reproduced digitally.
Maybe all the time spent swiping for a new BFF could be spent looking for activities, or social events to attend, with like-minded people as a way to make friends. What happened to making friends the old fashioned way where you when friendship started in person based on common interests and shared experiences? One article mentioned Bumble was working on algorithms to suggest matches based on data from users’ Facebook pages. This could provide opportunities for matches based on common interests.
It seems strange to me to “shop” for friends through an online service, but that’s how I used to think about online dating. And in some ways, why is it any different to look for a romantic partner vs. a friend through an online platform? Lots of other platforms exist online for meeting like-minded people socially through organizations, meet up groups, networking events, etc. They offer group settings and opportunities to meet, whereas Bumble focuses on creating one-to-one connections, no physical contact necessary.
The appeal of using online methods diminishes for me when potential matches turn into a lot of useless texting and missed, half-hearted attempts to meet in person. At least this is how a lot of online dating matches turned out, if the goal wasn’t a quick hook up. Will we one day have “friend” hookups the same way we do with online dating? What would that look like?