As the coming of winter, combined with the coronavirus, continues to put new restrictions on peoples’ movements, location-based apps are on the rise again. People are looking to find out who is close to them. Who is in their community. People are understandably looking for new friends and resources close to them.
Apps that connect young mums locally (Pumpspotting, Peanut), professionals (Fishbowl, Lunchclub), Jetset daters (Raya, Bumble), digital nomads (Homeis), locals (Nextdoor ) and millennials (Friended) are all being dialed-up.
And with government lockdowns coming back for their “2nd album,” the U.K.’s millennials and Gen Zs are increasingly turning to location-based apps to try to hang out with each other and burst the so-called “rule of six” bubble, whether the government wants them to or not.
Pickle is fast making a name for itself amongst an estimated 350,000 millennials and Gen Zs for that reason. After starting out as a TaskRabbit-style app for Gen Z, it is now seeing growth as an app for that generation to find fellow travelers locally, even as their normal travel has been curtailed by COVID-19.
Founder Daneh Westropp says: “Loneliness is the number one fear of young people today — ranking ahead of losing a home or a job; 71% of millennials reported feeling lonely [survey conducted by Cigna] and 69% of millennials experience FOMO when they can’t attend something that their family or friends are going to [study by Eventbrite]. So it comes as no surprise that people genuinely hate doing certain activities alone.” That’s why, she says, Pickle is climbing up app-store rankings.
Westropp understands the feeling of alienation. She ran away from Tehran during the 1988 Iran/Iraq war with her mother and sister, and was raised by a single mother who suffered from loneliness and depression. After dropping out of school at the age of 15, she went on to join the ranks of other entrepreneurs.
But a few problems remain with the Pickle app that are cause for concern. It has no 2FA for starters. Plus, the lack of regulation or content filtering means it’s anyone’s guess who users might be arranging to meet. Those are big red flags for the average observer.
Whether Gen Z cares or not during a global pandemic that has shut down their lives remains to be seen.