We're neck deep in the digital age, print media is slowly becoming a thing of the past, and the way we communicate with one another, meet new people, find new places, consume our news and even apply for jobs, has changed.
If you go into a bar or restaurant, it's not unusual to see a group of friends with their faces firmly planted in their phones, tagging each other in memes, when they're sat right next to each other. I myself have had to swerve more than a few times to avoid lamppost collision, whilst having a cheeky look at Facebook or Tinder.
Dating apps in particular, have revolutionised the way we integrate with people outside of our usual social circles. Online dating used to be reserved for lonesome divorcees or workaholics over the age of 35, but with the launch of apps such as Tinder, Happn and Bumble, it has become cool, trendy and widely accessible to all age groups, with a reported 91 million people logging on daily. Plus, you can un-match people, which you unfortunately can't do in real life.
The increasing popularity of these apps has sparked the evolution of the BFF app; not only are we seeking love or sex, we're now also seeking companionship. Engrossed in our busy day-to-day lives, it can be difficult to meet new people with the same interests as us, and dating apps still leave you susceptible to the odd, unsolicited dick pic.
I met the majority of my friends through work and my ex-boyfriend, several of whom I live with, so I know they aren't going anywhere soon. Although there is nothing wrong with the group of quasi-alcoholics I call friends, I do wonder if there is someone out there who shares my love of Craig David, or somebody who also has a weakness for middle class f*ckboys.
As Bumble has been widely covered by the media over the past few months, and the last man I dated from the app turned into a borderline psychopath - I decided to opt for the new kid of the block, Huggle. I could run a small country from my phone, potentially even a medium-sized one, but could I really find a new partner in crime using an app?
Co-founded by two female entrepreneurs, Valerie Stark and Stina Sanders, Huggle matches its users on compatibility and mutual interests, rather than appearances. To message someone on the app, you must have places in common, which gives you an immediate icebreaker. Though I did wonder if I was going to be judged for going to Market House in Brixton on a regular basis...
I signed up and proceeded to put together my profile. I kept the wording witty, hoping it may attract people of a similar wavelength, however, my friend James felt differently, "you look f*cking crazy. I'm not sure you're going to get any mates with that bio" - not quite the feedback I was hoping for. James was right though; my friends and I have fed off each other's insanity and attracting new friends outside of our circle, meant acting like a normal, functioning member of society.
Whilst browsing my locations, which included slightly less embarrassing spots, such as The Box, Equinox Gym and The Riding House Café, I noticed that I had brushed shoulders with over 180 other Huggle users. An events coordinator called Emily was the first to make contact; we had three locations in common and she said my bio made her laugh. Feeling smug, I responded and we quickly started discussing our jobs, hobbies and interests, which unfortunately did not mutually involve cats or white wine. I was unsure whether this friendship could blossom, but was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.
Within two hours of downloading the app, I had engaged in conversation with seven potential BFF's (who am I, Paris Hilton?), and had arranged a lady date with Emily for the following day. Though being used to apps like Tinder and Happn, it does take a while to get your head around the fact you're not trying to date these people, I became quite conscious of sounding like a bit of a creep in my messages.
A few days later and after several plan changes, I still hadn't met up with my potential new BFF, Emily. It seemed as though I had been unduly mugged off, and I can only imagine that it was our creative differences (cats and wine) that had set us apart. I say this, because James said I didn't sound "particularly creepy." I decided to take that.
The next day, I was chatting to a PR Assistant called Caitlin. She was just a year younger than me, worked with some of my favourite brands (could come in handy) and in addition to the above, shared my love of Ed Westwick, trashy TV shows, northern accents and pizza. Could she be the one? She certainly was on paper.
We decided to meet at a pub in South London and after a few initial awkward silences (and many, many wines later) we settled into a continual stream of conversation, sharing stories and talking about past relationships. Slurring through the evening, it became clear that Caitlin would either be a welcome addition to my friendship group, or a terrible, terrible influence on my fragile willpower. Judging by my head the following day, and on several occasions since, I have decided that she is both, but mainly the latter.
BFF apps, like Huggle, are great if you want to expand your friendship group, but don't have the time or perhaps the confidence to go out and meet people initially in person. Like with Tinder, you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince (or princess), but whether you're looking for a weeknight drinking buddy, or someone to indulge in a bit of culture with on the weekend, it's worth persevering. Although true friendships take time to flourish and grow, I definitely feel like I have laid a strong foundation for a lasting friendship.
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