Khanyiswa Mogotsi

At the start of the pandemic, I was in a relationship but not too long after that my relationship ended, and I found myself back in the dating pool.

However, because of lockdown there was nowhere I could go to make new connections and having just come out of a relationship I did not have any interest to be in another one yet.

The lack of social interaction began to make me feel a bit lonely and bored, so I made the decision to join an online dating app and meet new people in the comfort of my own home.

The app I joined was Tinder and to make things clear, I was not looking for love because we all know Tinder is not where you find love. I was just looking for friendships, people to talk to while I was stuck at home, and a little entertainment. Something to keep me busy with when I had nothing else to do.

Sometime during lockdown last year, Tinder made their passport setting available to everybody. This feature allowed the users to match with people anywhere in the world.

I decided that as a fun introduction to the app, I would not look for people to match with in Namibia. The first location that I went virtual dating in was Johannesburg, South Africa and I had no problems with the South African people that I matched with.

The conversations were very familiar and normal, and some people were a bit boring but that is where the “un-match” button came in handy.

I felt as though I had spent enough time on South African Tinder, and I was able to make a few friends who I now follow on other social media platforms and vice-versa. I wanted to test the waters and try virtual dating in another continent.

The next location I found myself in was France and I could feel the cultural difference right away. Most of the people I matched with were not too fluent in English so there was not too much conversation happening. However, the people I did have conversations with were not shy when it came to being freaky and straight to the point.

I could feel the thirst through my phone screen and most of them made me incredibly uncomfortable, but this behaviour was expected. Once again, the “un-match” remained super helpful in these cases.

Virtual dating in France became tedious and if I no longer wanted to google translate every one of my sentences or constantly explain that I was not comfortable with exchanging nudes over the internet so, I decided to change my location for the last time and head over to the United States.

In the beginning, there was not really any difference with the quality of conversation in America but that was until someone I had to un-match due to an inappropriate conversation.

This guy was not too happy about me unmatching with him and made that very clear through the violent and borderline crazy messages he sent me. I was called everything derogatory name I could think of.

This reaction did scare me a bit and that is when I made the decision to leave the app and return to normal, in-person dating.

There are a few connections I made on Tinder who have become friends and I am grateful for those relationships, but I understand now more than ever why one should not hope to find any serious romantic relationship from dating apps. If you do it for interaction or light amusement, fine. But see it for the distant conversation that it is. That is all.

I am not saying that a relationship can never be formed through the internet or social media, but one should keep in mind that with online dating comes the risk of being harassed by crazy people.