Remember the good old days when friends were categorised as from your neighbourhood, school, college or workplace? It’s so different now, with friendships being formed quickly across nations and boundaries thanks to social media. And instead of using dating apps to find a fling like people do abroad, the dynamics work differently in India, with many turning them into a new platform for fledgling friendships!
Like Jayeeta Das, who observes, “With a decent number of friends resulting from dating apps, it seems to me that I’m not using these apps for the right reasons! I have really good friends off these now. Yes, these apps do have fake profiles too. But I’ve been careful and it also depends on the opposite person’s behaviour, which has never gone wrong for me.” She has found a true friendship or two this way. “While he is a good friend of mine now, Joe Franklin and I were initially hesitating to talk to each other. But today, it’s quite the opposite. We meet at least twice a week and share how things are going in life. It’s so refreshing for a busy bee like me to have this,” laughs Jayeeta.
Her friend Joe Franklin, a sound engineer by profession concurs, “These dating sites are not always about hook ups. You can end up making some good friends and connections. I believe in the concept of friends as it is far less complicated than relationships. At the end of the day, what we count is the memories and I had some notable ones with those whom I met through dating apps.”
Kavya Srinivas, working in a start-up, says she has a friend from Assam. She asserts, “The world never seems massive if we start using social media. As a kid, I never thought I would be able to interact with people living on other side of the globe, but social media made it possible. It was good for me when I encountered Bishal Sharma, who works for a bank, over a dating app. He always tries to make me active because our conversations made him realise that I’m a lazy bug. We got close when he shared a song sung by him after my tiring day. I felt truly rejuvenated after hearing his melodious voice. And he is still a good friend of mine, who is always there to ask how my day was.”
No wonder a recent study found that 462 million people in India are active online, and apparently more than 70 percent of friendships are made and maintained via online platforms. Meeting each other in person allows individuals open up; exchanging ideas and interests helps them to share a good bond.
While having good friends is essential and encourages emotional balance in an individual, it is also important to think twice about the safety. “Those in their late teens understand the world so one can say that’s the preferable time to start using social media. Safety is primary and then comes the need for company. It is definitely possible to find some good friends and people of our type on social media, but it’s not advisable to trust everyone we come across,” Kavya advises. It’s reassuring that the research also showed that many apps seem 70 percent safer compared to two years ago.