The tantalizing threat of Tinder
By Sharon Miki, Contributor
“Ashleigh hooked up with a guy.”
“Cool! What’s he like?”
“It doesn’t matter. She just met him to have sex with him.”
“Yeah, they met on Tinder. He picked her up on his motorcycle and drove her to his apartment. They had sex then she took the bus home. She didn’t even know where she was. Ha, ha.”
“Isn’t that… dangerous?”
Ah, modern romance. You’re introduced—anonymously—to a new guy, sparks fly (or, at the very least, you consider him somewhat bang-able), so you let him take you to a second location where no one knows where you are, knowing only that he has a first name and lives in your basic metropolitan area.
Is this not the most risky dating scenario you’ve ever heard of?
Maybe. But thanks to casual encounter apps like Tinder, it’s becoming an increasingly popular scheme of our prevailing hook-up culture; and I think it’s going to get someone killed.
Tinder is a smartphone app where people can be matched with other users for “dating” based on only their Facebook profile pictures, age, first name, and location. Users browse through other users’ images, and swipe to the right if they like what they see; if both users indicate interest, they will be notified that they’re a match and given the opportunity to instant message one another and, theoretically, meet up for a “date.”
Tinder purists may suggest that the app is a low-pressure way to meet new people, but come on. Not to get all McLuhan here, but this is a case of the medium being, literally, the fucking message: if you’re meeting someone on Tinder, the implication of using the app is that you’re looking for a transitory and most likely sexual experience. You don’t join Tinder to meet someone for a public, afternoon coffee.
While I don’t necessarily begrudge people the right to enjoy ephemeral sexual encounters, I do worry about young women jumping into dangerous, sexually targeted situations with total strangers. The risk for date rape, murder, or robbery is amplified immensely by the anonymity of the program. What if you meet a Tinder match in person, and you don’t feel as into it as you did based on their image on your phone? What if the person you meet up with is mentally unstable? What if your date is a serial killer and you’ve got the look they’re into? I’m not trying to be dramatic: I really worry that the combination of an implicitly sexual and anonymous in person encounter with a stranger who you know nothing about could lead to harmful situations.
I’m not saying that everyone using an app like Tinder is a deranged criminal; after all, a lot of my friends use it, and I try not to associate with deranged criminals on the regular. However, the lack of accountability (anyone can make a Facebook account) could give creepy people with violent intentions the ability to craft a scenario in which their partner is more vulnerable to exploitation, with little immediate recourse.
Very few people I know would answer an ad for anonymous sexual hookups on, say Craigslist, so why are people so apt to jump into risky scenarios just because it’s part of a glossy, trendy app? Call me crazy, but there’s a difference between a little sexy exploration and encouraging strangers to take us somewhere we don’t know with carnal intentions. Has our sexual frustration reached a point of such desperation that we’re willing to put ourselves in danger?
Do as you will, but if you must use an app like Tinder, take precautions. At the very least, tell someone you trust about what you’re doing and when, and check in with them throughout the date so they know that you’re safe. After all, your Tinder Prince Charming might fuck you like you want him too, but you never know if he’s going to fuck you over in a deadly way, instead.