In an age where our smart phones play cupid, it is hard to predict just how many Valentines Day tables will be booked for Tinder veterans this February.
Personally, I keep my Tinder distance setting low and my standards even lower. The gender set to ‘Only Men’, and the age range slightly above that which my own moral fibre would care to admit. And the result? I will be spending Valentines Day with two rather delicious men who can successfully pleasure me simultaneously – Ben and Jerry.
Joking aside, it is worth remembering the dangers of online dating spaces. The truth is that we have no idea who we are swiping left or right to. Behind the security of our protective screen we often convince ourselves that ‘dangerous’ people cannot reach us.
More than 4000 offences reported last year were linked in some way to today’s most popular online dating apps. Alleged crimes included child sex grooming, rape and attempted murder. One report presents a seven-fold increase in overall crime related to dating apps in just over two years.
Grindr, founded in 2009, is an online dating app that connects users to other men seeking same sex relations in their locality. Reports have claimed that users have been prone to blackmail in order to keep their sexual encounters secret. In an almost archaic replica of 1960s America, victims are subject to entrapment and blackmail for something as natural as their sexual desire. Some have argued that apps such as Grindr have the agency to further this criminal activity.
Tinder, released in 2012, is also a location-based dating app. Call me old fashioned, but I think cupid looks for more a little more than just proximity to determine the compatibility of two matches.
Recently, a report has claimed that victims of sexual assaults linked to online dating apps have multiplied six fold over the last six years. With 85% of these known victims being female, and 42% in their twenties, it is clear that apps such as Tinder ought to be used with caution by our student population.
For those who aren’t too self-conscious to conceal the truth, it is not wholly uncommon nowadays to hear that very successful matches first met on a through a dating app. Several of my close friends have found that swiping through a series of Polaroid photographs on a Sunday afternoon actually lead to them meeting their other half.
It is reassuring to know that technology can play cupid (and get it right) from time to time. It is, however, disconcerting to belong to a generation where these dating apps are used with such abandon. In researching this article I know that I am guilty of placing too much trust in the applications on my phone.
When searching for more than my two scrumptious dates (Ben and Jerry) this Valentine’s Day, I will be conscious of the possible risks behind my on-screen chats.
With such an increasing crime culture harvesting in these location-based applications, I for one, have swiped away my misconception that all users are safe.