Zoom dates and love in the time of corona

Posted on : 2021-01-29 17:58 KST Modified on : 2021-01-29 17:58 KST
People seeking romance go online amid prolonged social distancing
Getty Images
Getty Images

“I got really bored because COVID-19 kept me from meeting anyone. I signed up [for this service] because I felt like I needed to do something. I think people will either love it or hate it,” said K, an office worker I was chatting with. I’d just asked K why he’d signed up for a blind date on Zoom, the videoconferencing platform.

As virtual interaction becomes routine in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, companies arranging blind dates for young people are on the rise. The Hankyoreh asked several people who’ve been on these virtual blind dates to share their thoughts.

Most saw blind dates on Zoom as a nice change of pace, but still somewhat awkward. Most of them heard about these virtual dating services from friends, or through news and social media advertisements.

Zoom website
Zoom website

“I signed up because I was curious about what kind of people were on the service. Admittedly, it’s a little awkward to have a conversation through a screen. Still, I plan to recommend it to friends who are willing to try something new,” said N.

“This could be a good option for people who aren’t sure how to meet new people. Meeting people online was more stimulating than I expected,” said K, after going on a Zoom blind date.

These services typically ask applicants about their values, predilections and preferences and then pair them up with a suitable partner. The services also provide preselected topics and questions to keep the conversations flowing.

However, Zoom dates are still a far cry from the typical blind date, where two people sit down, look each other in the eye and have a conversation. Online, it can be uncomfortable to keep one eye on the camera and the other on one’s counterpart during the brief dates, which last for 15-20 minutes.

People using the service have to focus on the other person’s face, which is right in the middle of the monitor. As a result, you can’t help but notice all the fleeting eye movements, subtle shifts in expressions, and hand gestures.

Zoom blind dates started off as one-off events hosted by anonymous online communities for university students and companies organizing social outings. But as the activity spread through word of mouth, marriage-oriented matchmaking companies have also gotten in on the act.

“Since offline meetings have disappeared because of COVID-19, online meetings have become more valuable, especially to the younger generation. Virtual meetings will become more prevalent in the future because they offer the advantage of anonymity,” said Lim Myeong-ho, a professor of psychology at Dankook University.

By Jang Pill-su, staff reporter

Please direct comments or questions to [english@hani.co.kr]

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