Dating platforms in China are starting to experiment with livestream chatting features, and we need to accept that it’s only a matter of time before U.S. apps start making you face-time with potential hookups.
The Next Web reports that China’s biggest internet dating site Jiayuan first started offering video streaming in January. But it wasn’t as straightforward as two matches chatting face-to-face. First, a user would start a streaming session with a set topic, then wait for a second user to join. Then if someone wanted to talk to that host, they would request to join. If the request was accepted, then the two could video chat. That conversation would then broadcast live for other users to watch and comment.
The feature was about as awkward as it sounds, and there were a lot of empty rooms, according to The Next Web. So the company added third party emcees to serve as matchmaker hosts. It also created a karaoke feature for users who would rather connect over song. Since then, two other major dating platforms— Baihehunlian and Zhenai—also added livestream features.
Sure this form of digital courtship sounds like a nightmare—Chatroulette for people trying to hook up. And you may think it could never work here.
But the global popularity and success of TikTok shows that China may soon be driving our social media trends. And a recent Mel Magazine article written by a teen author spotlights Gen Z’s growing preference for streaming video over texting. The article was inspired largely by a tweet from Sam Lansky that stirred a conversation about the rift between people who FaceTime regularly and those who are horrified by it.
Perhaps teens realize FaceTime is more convenient and less anxiety-inducing than crafting a message that conveys the proper emotional tone and then waiting for a response. The author of the Mel article suggests the popularity of FaceTiming comes from a “growing desire for human connection among young people.” Which, ya know, sounds about right.
Dating apps are going to exploit this desire. Lonely Americans have been swiping left and right for more than five years now and are collectively ready for a different online dating experience. At least with livestream online dating, it’ll be a lot more difficult to get catfished.