I was fortunate enough to receive a Journalism award for an opinion piece on hookup culture. Here is the piece in its entirety.
Swipe left on hookup culture
The rise of casual sex has transformed the dating world into nothing more than a hookup culture. This means emotional connections and committed relationships are fading away while casual sex is on the rise. According to the US National Library of Medicine, 81 per cent of college age people have engaged in hookup behaviour. While some say hooking up is harmless fun, many blame Tinder and other popular hookup apps for a 128 per cent increase in syphilis cases since 2012 in Nevada alone. Hookup culture is a bad thing.
In the age of convenience, there is an app for everything. Tinder alone has over 50 million active users according to the New York Times. That is 50 million users checking their accounts an average of eleven times a day. The editorial team at The Associated Press has used this information to blame hookup apps such as Tinder for the recent outbreak of syphilis.
The issue does not stop there. Over time swiping left and right on Tinder can become tedious and this causes users to race through with just a glance at one picture of a person. Therapist, Jennifer D. Maddox believes that this shallowness can lead to problems with self-image.
Many say this is the entire point of Tinder, being able to find a date with ease. Unfortunately, it can cause users a lot of stress when trying to craft their profile. This can lead to the reinforcement of unrealistic beauty standards that we as a society have been working so hard to erase.
The target audience for apps such as Tinder are millennials. Because of this, convenience and simplicity are key operating factors. Many of these users are looking for the same thing, a quick, no-strings-attached ‘relationship’, which can actually lead to the development of commitment issues later in life. Sometimes these commitment issues are the basis of users making an account to begin with. According to an article on Business Insider, a staggering 30 per cent of Tinder users are already married.
In this culture of instant gratification, hooking up often forces those involved to rush getting to know each other. While supporters of hookup culture will say this is the entire point of the process, what they don’t realize is the increase in the potential for STIs. According to Statistics Canada, reported cases of STIs have increased by over 70 per cent in Canada alone since 1997. This alters the perception of harmless hookups into a potentially deadly game of Russian Roulette.
Tinder has released statements denying the 2014 research by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) that proved a link between hookup apps and STI outbreaks, as seen in Las Vegas. However, a representative of Tinder has been quoted in an official statement admitting that the CDC has conducted the “largest and most credible study on the topic”.
This is not a problem exclusive to North America. Across the pond, the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV has also linked hookup apps to a growing STI rate.
The idea that apps like Tinder connect to an individual’s Facebook page may have lulled users into a false sense of security. However, you can never be sure who is on the other side of the screen. The last thing anyone wants when they download an app is compromised health or a broken heart. Think twice before you swipe, you might be getting more than a date.