As lockdown moves life online once again, it seems the virtual world has an answer for everything - even dating.
If we wind the clock back 18 months, when we were just heading into this pandemic, you would be forgiven for thinking it might be easier to just wait it out rather than try to connect with new people over video chat.
But it's been more than a year, and for some people, they no longer want to put their lives on hold when it comes to dating.
Am I one of those people? Honestly, no. However, I am single and I live alone, so a night of virtual speed dating doesn't sound like a bad way to spend a lockdown evening.
CitySwoon has been running virtual speed dating events in Canberra and elsewhere around Australia since the beginning of the pandemic. The dating company had already started to look at digital events before the pandemic, which meant that when Covid hit, they had a custom platform already in the works.
So how does virtual speed dating work?
Eighteen months of a pandemic means we are used to video calls on Zoom or the like, where you see everyone taking part in the call. The CitySwoon platform, however, only shows the hosts - in this instance Chris and Alice - in the "waiting room", before you head into a separate "virtual room" for your one-on-one dates.
Everyone goes on up to eight dates, however, while there is the time to go on eight, five-minute dates, there is no guarantee. This could be because there is an uneven number of participants, or because you haven't been matched with anyone.
Just like their in-person events, CitySwoon asks participants to fill out a questionnaire before the event so they can pair you with someone they believe will be a good match. So while you're available for eight dates, you actually may only go on six or seven.
So what do you do in the meantime?
Well, for every five-minute date that you don't get to go on, you are taken back into the "waiting room" where the hosts will run through some tips speed dating tips, such as ice-breaker questions, as well as conducting interviews with fellow date participants.
I'm not going to go into how each date went, not because they were boring but because it actually wouldn't be fair on them. However, I will say that every single one of them was interesting, even, if in some cases, they weren't necessarily a match.
At the end of each date, you rate each other from one to five. A ranking of one to two says you don't want to talk to the person again, and three and up says you would be open to it. If both people agree to chat again, you're connected at the end of the night so you can continue talking.
The only real downside is that there is an age bracket that you need to fall into to participate. The event I went to - and all of the online Canberra events at the moment - are limited to 30- to 45-year-olds. It's a wide age range but if you're outside of that bracket, there isn't another option.
But for those of you who are, it's worth a try. Even if you don't meet anyone, it's a great way to spend a night in lockdown.
The next virtual CitySwoon event is on August 30. For more information go to cityswoon.com.au.
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