Tinder!It’s a match. Photo: Bradlyn Wilson

Meeting People Online

It’s simple really, a swipe left, a swipe right. Then who knows… you may find your soul mate. The love of your life might be waiting for you online.

The online world is the most normal way of meeting people in 2015. Tinder and other dating apps have taken the world by storm. Tinder has 1.5 Million users in Australia and still the media, your friends, your family, and even yourself sometimes would have you believe that this way of meeting people is the most dangerous.

In typical Mean Girls fashion THEY tell you “Don’t use tinder, you will get attacked and DIE!”

Oh Coach Carr. You give such sound advice! Still from the movie: Mean Girls! mememaker.net

The controversy over using dating apps is debated over and over. People’s biggest fears when it comes to Tinder are becoming a victim of sexual violence or exploitation, as well as a fear of rejection.

Sexual Assault in Australia is a REAL problem

Australia has one of the highest rates of rape and sexual violence in the world, especially for a developed and westernized country.  It is estimated that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 20 men have experienced sexual violence since age 15.

SBS posted a compelling video on Youtube which can be found here. It shows that Australia has one of the highest rates of sexual assault from people who aren’t a partner, 16.4% compared to global average of 7.2%.

Sexual Assault Statistics in Australia
Sexual Assault Statistics for 2010 and 2014 From: Crime Statistics Victoria (Melbourne and Victoria), NT and Alice Springs, and BOCSAR NSW.

Those statistics are staggering and heart wrenching. It is no wonder that at every turn there is a reason screaming in your face not to use Tinder. In the past year there has been coverage of robberies, stabbings, gang-rapes, and murders from Tinder dates across Australia. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t use the app.

The Media gives Tinder a Bad Rap

Relationship and online dating expert Bettina Arndt is frustrated at how the media portrays dating apps. She says,

Lots of people are scared of online dating and the media doesn’t help. The media does an appalling job, in only focusing on the negatives…It drives me crazy how rarely the media presents positive aspects of what has been a huge success story.

Most media stories cover the negatives of Tinder and other similar apps. This negative connotation leads to people missing out on potentially amazing connections.

How do we define harassment?
How do we define harassment?

The Jury’s Out on Tinder’s New Features

Dating apps are the centre of attention, with Hinge making it’s debut in Sydney last week. But everyone still has their opinions on them.

Gemma, 25, recently moved to Melbourne and is new to Tinder. She says she is “uncomfortable” using the dating app and thinks that online dating is dangerous. In her experience everyone she has met was completely different to his profile. She has gotten a lot of messages asking for sex, and her experience is it’s a hook up app.

Lindsay, 24, is another Tinder user. She is a government employee in Alice Springs, NT. She has used Tinder a few times in Canada and across Europe. Now she is a sporadic user in Australia and thinks it’s a great way to meet new people saying, “I guess people some people might think everyone on Tinder is there just to hookup, but I don’t think that is always the case.”

Tinder recently added a more involved way of seeing your connections. Similar to Linkedin you can see people who are separated by ‘2nd degree’ friends. So they have to have a friend who is friends with your friend.

Tinder also recently synced with Instagram. Now for most females this was brilliant. You can now add the perfectly filtered and cropped Instagram photos to your profile. But as Lindsay points out,

“It is a bit creepy now that Tinder shows the Facebook friend connections and Instagram which makes it easier for people to find your online profiles and further information about you.”

An example of the
An example of the “Common Connections” Tinder now shows you. This makes your profile less private!

There’s Still A Stigma

A third Tinder user, from Sydney, Harriet, 24, who actually had a long term relationship with a man she met from Tinder says she’s been on it for 18 months and “it’s changed”.

“The pressure the media puts on like when you’re 24 you date all these different guys and you go on a date every week and I was like I can do this and Tinder is actually a really good way to do this.”

She thinks there are more guys on it now but she has gotten less matches. She thinks when it’s a larger group there are less people who will be attracted to you. She says,

“I’ve had a lot of really good conversations with a lot of guys on Tinder. But it’s never really eventuated with me going out with them. Mainly because I’m a little nervous and b. because I quite like that anonymity and it’s nice to talk to someone with the same interests as you. And I feel like with some of the guys we could be friends, but going on a date because you met on Tinder it’s a bit of pressure…”

“It’s just like you—it’s the whole like ‘you’re meeting someone online?’ there’s still a lot of stigma and old fashioned ideas about that being unsafe.”

When it’s comes to the Media’s portrayal of Tinder Harriet says,

“I feel like the media will quite often only pick up the bad things about something… and I don’t think Tinder is necessarily, I mean it’s is not a bad app, it’s really not, it’s a good way of meeting people. And yes, these bad things happen and we have to always be aware of them but it’s not—I think the media has gone a little too far with scare mongering about the app when we really have to be a little more realistic.”

Don’t Throw Caution to the Wind

Sexual Violence is a real and growing problem in Australia. However Tinder and meeting people online is not the problem. People are the problem.

Keep the following precautions in mind though:

  1. Meet in a nice public place and have a get out plan. Or even meet in a group, think: Hillary Duff-esc!
  2. Don’t give away significant personal details; I’m looking at you credit card numbers!
  3. TRUST YOUR GUT! (It’s usually right!)

Find Love. Stop Sexual Assault.

If you’re looking for love though Arndt always recommends tinder to anyone under 30 and thinks it has shifted from a hook-up app to an actual way to meet people.

The high rates of sexual assault in Australia need to stop. The amount of people who experience this is shockingly high in this country. No means no, even if you swipe right.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault then contact your local help centre, in NSW: http://www.nswrapecrisis.com.au.

Short Bio: Bradlyn Wilson

Bradlyn is a Masters of Media Practice Student. She is an avid traveller and Tinder user. ;)
Bradlyn is a Masters of Media Practice Student. She is an avid traveller, environmentalist, science geek and Tinder user. 😉