In a time when Tinder bios read, ‘I just wanna quarantine and chill’ (okay then), vacations happen in the backyard, playing a sport means an intense Ludo match, pillowcases are the new ‘it’ thing to wear, ‘hope you’re holding up fine’ has replaced ‘hi’ and Zoom has taken over the world, what is the new normal for dating?
In quarantine, singles of the world are feeling more single than they ever have
Of course, we’re all confined to our homes while socially isolating ourselves with banana bread, made in the kitchen face packs, and a whole lot of Instagram. However, now more than ever, the singles of the world are feeling more single than they ever have. (Yes, me too.)
It truly is an unprecedented time.
So even though the last two years of my life have been riddled with romantic failures, when a friend asked me to attend a virtual speed dating event called Global Social Mixer two weeks ago, I agreed to participate reluctantly, hopelessly and a bit excitedly. Frankly, at this point, I would (really) take any opportunity to not wear my pyjamas.
Small talk, big bore
Here’s what I already knew about the event: Global Social Mixer was started by 28-year-old London-based Prateek Thawani, who was disjointed when he heard that the lockdown might be extended for the foreseeable future.
During the event, I would have to spark conversations with strangers, albeit virtually, but before initiating a one-to-one chat, everyone could mingle in groups of four or five in a breakout room. Each conversation would last for 5-8 minutes and about 50-60 people from all across the globe were expected to join. Everyone invited was first vetted by the organizers, and if you were a shy homebody, you’d be handed some ice-breaking questions to use.
“How long do we wait till we can go out with a romantic interest again? Can screen-hopping with strangers lead to a relationship?”
On the day of the event, about 40 people convened on a Zoom call. After a (fairly long) introduction, we were dispersed randomly in the breakout rooms, following which we could pick one person we wanted to talk to further. Men and women in the age group of 25 to 35 were present and a lot of small talk followed, ranging from quick dosa recipes and how China might come up with a cure for coronavirus before anyone else to the Netflix reality TV series Love is Blind.
Three breakout rooms and 20 people later, I had lost any semblance of patience. So I left the Zoom call, changed back into my pyjamas and crawled under my fuzzy blanket. I then decided to message the friend who had invited me to tell him how it didn’t really work out for me. But he convinced me to go back again for another shot, so I did.
You’ve got a friend!
Ten minutes later, I had acquainted myself with a beauty pageant winner who also had a full-time job in a corporate (kudos for multitasking) and a Bengaluru-based engineer who belonged to the same city as me. While we did not exchange our phone numbers or Instagram IDs, it was pleasantly warm, delightfully refreshing and perhaps a much-needed breather during a never-ending lockdown when dating apps seldom offer any real chemistry.
But I couldn’t help but wonder if dating culture would change for good during the time of social-distancing. How long do we have to wait till we can go out with a romantic interest again? Will millennials, known to suffer from commitment issues, warm up to the idea of old-fashioned speed dating? Can screen-hopping with strangers really lead to a relationship? Or is this another temporary fix?
Perhaps we can only find out with time.
But until then, if I get another chance to break out of my eat-sleep-Netflix-repeat routine and mindless scrolling on Instagram with another speed dating event for the quarantined single, I might (that’s right) just take it up.
From HT Brunch, May 31, 2020
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