In recent years social networking has gotten a bad reputation, with many of us advised to only befriend people we know. Back in the early days, it was an excellent way to meet new people but now there is a mischievous and malicious side to it. So, what do women looking to make meaningful connection with other females do? Step forward, Hey Vina.
Hey Vina is an app especially and exclusively for women. It works using the same format as Tinder. You create a profile, fill it with information about yourself and then browse other users. You can swipe left to reject their friendship or right to possibly connect. If you both swipe right on each other, you are given a virtual introduction and can privately message each other.
I had many concerns before downloading this app. How would I know it was definitely a woman I was talking to? What kind of people need an app to make friends? What if nobody wants to be my friend? I addressed these concerns by putting my fears aside and downloading.
The way Hey Vina vets users is by ensuring they must have a Facebook profile with gender set to female to create a profile. Without a female Facebook profile, you cannot create an account. This is both a positive and a negative point. The people on Hey Vina are users of another social network so they have an online presence already and you can check that profile on Facebook. There are many tell-tale signs when a profile is fake or spam, so use your judgement wisely. It’s a negative because anyone can change their gender settings on Facebook.
Hey Vina pulls your Facebook profile pic for use on their app. You write a short biography, explaining a little about yourself or perhaps saying why you joined the app. You set your age, but they suggest using “early 20s” or “late 30s” so it’s more of a ballpark range. It’s not polite to ask a lady her age! You are asked where you work, where you went to school, your guilty pleasure and what you love most about yourself. Finally, they ask how you spend your Sundays and you can link your Instagram to your profile. All these things give others a good idea of who we are. You can also take quizzes, similar to those in women’s magazines that will tell you which planet you are most like and your general personality type.
You can also join communities, such as bloggers, sober sisters, LGBT, entrepreneurs and, “funemployed.” Again, it will paint a picture of our lifestyles, relationship status and family situation. Users can then view only women from these groups when browsing profiles. It makes sense if you’re a sober lady that you wouldn’t want to connect with people from the “happy hour” group or if you’re a stay at home mother, you’re unlikely to connect with the jet-setters’ group.
My own experience of the app was a bit mixed. All the women whose profiles I browsed seemed very normal. I decided they were probably just like me. They had friends they didn’t get to spend time with or their lifestyles affected the quality of their real life friendships.
It did worry me that anyone could pose as a woman online, gain your trust and then exploit you in some way. So, all the same precautions should be taken. The app recommends that you swap numbers and meet as soon as possible but after two months of using the app, neither I nor any of the ladies I connected with (called Dittos) even suggested a meeting or a number swap.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had far more people swipe right on me than I accepted. This resulted in 16 users wanting to get to know me but I only reciprocated on four. It was frustrating though because you cannot go back and re-think and accept someone. You also can’t see who was interested in you. This means you have to be really careful who you reject because once you’ve swiped left, you can’t get them back.
Of those four women, I now only exchange messages with one of them. The first seemed to have lots in common with me but after exchanging a few messages, we had resorted to talking about the weather and it fizzled out. Despite my settings only requesting connections from people in my area, I managed to match with a woman in Aberdeenshire, which is at whole day’s drive away. I’m still chatting with the third woman I matched with and have high hopes that it may progress into a real life friendship, but there was another whose profile information was inaccurate, to say the least. We were apparently attending the same university but when I asked her questions about our common ground, she admitted she had lied about her education and at that point I decided to check her out on Facebook. From her public profile I saw some little snippets of information I found quite off-putting, namely some racist language and it was clear she and I weren’t going to be friends. This is proof that there’s nothing to stop anyone from lying about their life, embellishing the truth and misleading you, even on an app designed to empower and connect women.
Overall, despite not making any real friends yet, I still think Hey Vina is a great idea. It’s the inherent flaws in our nature that will make usage of the app a success or failure for us as individuals. It’s available to download on iOS and is coming to Android in the near future, but no date has been set, as yet.