Heather du Plessis-Allan is a columnist for the Herald on Sunday

Heather du Plessis-Allan: Swiping right isn't all that bad

Tinder is not just about sex, and not the sign of a promiscuous generation.
Often, young people use app to organise dates with people they'd like to consider having a relationship with. Photo / 123RF
Often, young people use app to organise dates with people they'd like to consider having a relationship with. Photo / 123RF

As you read this, young people across New Zealand will be crawling out of the beds of strangers. They would've met for the first time last night. They probably had a few drinks. Maybe they stopped off for a kebab. They definitely had sex.

Chances are, they hooked up on Tinder.

Promiscuous? Probably no more so than when you were young and single.

Read that first paragraph again, but instead of meeting on Tinder, imagine that the couple met in a bar last night. So much less promiscuous! Now they're just drunk Kiwi kids doing what drunk Kiwi kids have been doing for decades without their clothes on.

Tinder. Already so polarising. The offspring of the slightly desperate dating websites of last decade. Either wildly offensive or mildly unromantic because of its transactional nature. Now, a key player in a murder trial.

If your only experience of the online dating app is through the trial that found Gable Tostee not guilty, let me tell you that was not the standard Tinder experience.

Young people don't use the app exclusively to organise sex. Often, they use it to organise dates with people they'd like to consider having a relationship with. They don't always have sex within a matter of minutes. Often, it takes several dates to get naked. The dalliances rarely end up in a murder trial.

Still, the online dating app has married, sensible suburbia all in a flap. Most outraged of all is Northland Age editor Peter Jackson, who's made a good fist of painting young Tinder users as a collective of promiscuous hedonists.

Warriena Wright, according to Mr Jackson, "should never have been in Gable Tostee's apartment" and wouldn't have been "if she had observed even a modicum of the social mores of previous generations".

Hold the phone. Is Peter Jackson referring to the previous generations of Don Drapers who kept mistresses in town while their wives ate valium in their suburban bathrooms? Or the previous generations who shagged whatever moved and called it Free Love? Or the swinger keys-in-the-bowl parties of the 70s? Or the boozy weekend night pub pick-ups?

Truth is, the young people of today show the rest of us up. Study after study tells us they're the least promiscuous generation since the 1920s. They're almost three times as likely as baby boomers to have no sex between 18 and 24 years old, they're sleeping with fewer partners.

But Peter Jackson isn't finished. He reckons behaving like Warriena Wright is inconceivable to "the pre-Tinder generation".

No it's not. Strictly, the pre-Tinder generation is anyone who started dating before the launch of the app in 2012. Assuming young people - promiscuous as they are - start dating at 16, this generation includes anyone born before 1996.

Which includes me. So let me say, as a card-carrying married-up member of the pre-Tinder generation, you kids should go ahead and use Tinder. Use it as often as you can. Tell everyone that you're using it. Use it to meet the partner of your dreams. Live happily ever after and rub it in the pre-Tinder generations' faces.

Because, it sucked to be us. They made six seasons and two movies of Sex and the City about the difficulties single women had in finding love.

If we were lucky enough to know a single guy, we'd spend months trying to figure out if he was interested. You, the Tinder generation, know the guy likes you because he swiped right, you swiped right and now he's sitting across the table from you.

Our way of meeting single guys was to gather up our single girlfriends and go out drinking in the hope one of us would 'get lucky'. Cloudy with alcohol, my friends made very bad - and in retrospect very unsafe - decisions. You, the Tinder generation, get to make your decisions from the comfort and safety of your lounges. Sober.

- Herald on Sunday

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Heather du Plessis-Allan is a columnist for the Herald on Sunday

Heather du Plessis-Allan is a thirty-something living between Auckland and Wellington. She has more than a decade's experience hosting and reporting on TV and radio. Heather's worked in Parliament's Press Gallery, covered the 2012 London Olympic Games, and reported from as far afield as Antarctica.

Read more by Heather du Plessis-Allan

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