The classic love letter got a revamp thanks to two viral couple-centered apps.
Locket, which allows people to send photos to each other, and NoteIt, which offers a twist with drawings and scribbled notes, have found recent booming success on TikTok.
“everyone who got the locket app to send their s/o pictures, download not it to send them little drawings <3,” Sydney Hoang wrote in a TikTok that’s been viewed over 1 million times.
The 19-year-old showed little illustrations — a bear, a love heart cartoon, two ghosts with the words “my boo” — shared between her and her boyfriend using NoteIt. The apps allow users to have a little corner on the screen decorated by their significant other, whether that’s with a funny joke or a sweet message.
The hashtag #NoteIt has amassed over 34.5 million views, and Locket sprung to the top slot on the most-downloaded App Store chart in recent weeks. Young couples have embraced the relationships apps for cute communications, telling BuzzFeed News that the pandemic has had them abandoning hookup culture for romance and extra ways to share love.
“During COVID, having something like the NoteIt or Locket app allows you to get reassured throughout the day like, This person cares about me,” said Hoang, who has been in a relationship for a few months. “Even if it’s just once a week, it’s like it’s own love language in itself, making art for someone else.”
COVID has often meant that for young people, in-person dates and gatherings have often not been possible, and the time spent indoors has changed how they view romance. Having a partner during a pandemic has suddenly become a far better option than being single — especially if it’s during the college years.
Eleanor Maher, 18, said she hated her boyfriend all throughout high school but realized they had quite a bit in common with each other when the UK national lockdown began.
She said they downloaded Locket before the recent influx of viral videos increased demand for the app that temporarily crashed its downloads, and since they’re both always on their phones, they’re constantly sharing photos to each other’s lockscreens.
“I don’t live with my boyfriend, and getting to see little updates of each other’s day is really nice,” Maher said.
Of course people are looking to technology for ways to keep connected at a time when public health measures have kept us apart.
Shruthi P., 20, who asked for their last name not to be published for privacy concerns, says communicating via Locket with her long-distance partner has made her realize the importance of small gestures, like a note or photo, and changed her perception of romance. Their collection of photos, which she shared on TikTok, is full of casual selfies and silly faces that they update several times a day.
“I’ve really learned how important it is to build a long-lasting, meaningful connection,” Shruthi said. “It’s hard to do that with so much uncertainty and distance between each other, but it’s also a reminder to not take anything for granted and what it means to love someone.”
Hoang thinks that this time has made her reflect more on what is important to her in a partner. “During the pandemic I saw how much we need these connections to survive as humans,” she said. “It’s opened my eyes to critiquing hookup culture while participating in it, and how it affects how we create relationships.”
The performative nature of romance on social media may raise expectations, but perhaps that’s better than the bar being on the floor when it comes to what many young people expect from a romantic relationship.
“I’m constantly being shown videos of couples making things for each other as romantic gestures,” Maher said. “My standards have grown higher.”