Global Times Mobile

Illustration: Luo Xuan/GT

I've been spending a lot of time swiping lately, and I don't mean my credit card. Ever since my solo trip to Thailand, where I used an online dating app to meet people to hang out with, I decided that I could continue using it back in Beijing to meet friends or go out with new and interesting people.

Most of these apps feature a few pictures of the person, with some witty, attention-grabbing line about themselves. Mine currently reads, "How do you organize a party in space? You planet! For more thought-provoking, high-brow jokes like these, swipe right." Others are less interesting, and some are outrageous!

One guy's profile reads, "Pick me if you want the kind of guy that will make your parents disown you." I think a lot of people are on there for laughs or hookups, but I think you can also make friends too.

Once you "match" with someone, you can begin chatting. This is where things can be interesting, weird or downright freaky! I usually always say, "What's up?" Others try to say something funny or refer to something you said on your profile. One time when I sent the "what's up" message, the guy I matched with responded, "The sky." Now, that is the kind of person I am looking for.

Then the "relationship" moves to the next level. You start chatting and asking them where they are from, what they do, why they came to China and so on. Once you get to know this online stranger, you make plans to hang out. Usually at this point, if I am interested in the person I will share my WeChat name with them and then choose somewhere like a restaurant or bar to meet up. And most notably, this is where you can "stalk" the person's WeChat Moments.

The one thing you always have to remember is, never trust the Internet. I made plans to hang out with what looked to be a tall, dark and handsome Indian guy who attends Harvard. We chatted, exchanged WeChats and decided to meet up at a popular restaurant on Gui Jie, or  Ghost Street, a popular dining area near my house in Dongcheng district.

After he was lost for over an hour and finally showed up, I couldn't believe my eyes. Standing before me was a stranger. He looked absolutely nothing like the pictures from the profile, and he was maybe 1.64-meter tall. I was pretty upset that he lied, but I just sucked it up and had the dinner all the same.

Later, I told my friend about the experience and when we looked at his profile again it said, "Pictures for reference only; actual results may vary." People can be very sneaky.

On the other hand, I have met a few really nice guys who are now my friends and a few travelers I enjoyed showing around the city I love.

It got me thinking. Apps like these are seen more as hookup or casual dating experiences. I wish there was an app where you could meet people of either gender to just make new friends. Living in a big city can be hard and lonely sometimes, so it helps having a way to meet people without having to live in bars every night. Maybe one day there will be an app solely for matching with new friends.

This article was published on the Global Times Metropolitan section Two Cents page, a space for reader submissions, including opinion, humor and satire. The ideas expressed are those of the author alone, and do not represent the position of the Global Times.