About a month after I moved out of home, I began to collect plastic bags inside a larger plastic bag. It heralded the beginning of adulthood. Adulthood and the slide towards weekends spent in K-Mart looking at jewel-tone water goblets. And using the word "funky" to describe said goblets. (Actually, my pineapple-coloured water goblets are pretty funky.)
The other marker of adulthood was that adults started telling me their opinions of "Young People". When you're a proper "Young Person", no one tells you their opinion of you. Then you get to your 20s and people start tentatively probing you for a reaction to their theories.
"Do you young people care less about things these days?" "Do you all have weird porny sex because of the internet?" "Do you give birth to live young?" The one I hear most often is, "What's the deal with you guys and Tinder? Why are you all just into casual sex now?"
Ah, Tinder. You have a lot to answer for. And not just for all those photos of rampant tigers and steroid abuse.
It is widely acknowledged among the funky goblet group that Tinder is the harbinger of the dating apocalypse. It is proof that young people these days are only interested in meaningless casual sex. And Tinder was largely what brought this change about. Vanity Fair ran an entire feature about this a few months ago, arguing that young people are all using Tinder to chase shallow, transitory and transactional relationships. We expect little, put up with less and spend weekends alone in our bathtubs eating beans out of the can.
The idea is reinforced by the stories on the internet about some poor girl who has had a Tinder date start swiping while she's still with him. Or those gruesome "worst of Tinder" compilation images where the girls boast, "gag reflex as absent as my father figure". Which, I'll admit, are examples of the most heartbreaking parts of the app.
Fortunately, the rest of the argument is largely wrong.
The assumption is that Tinder is an app for casual sex. And because everyone has Tinder, everyone must be having casual sex.
This is partly true. Everyone uses Tinder. I used it for a while, until the plethora of grammatically incorrect inquiries into my favourite colour made me want to kill something. And a lot of my friends use it too. Practically everyone I know has or has had Tinder.
However the problem is the assumption that Tinder is just an app for casual sex. It's really not. Most of my friends use it to find long-term relationships. In fact, most of the couples I know met on Tinder.
Oh yes, a percentage of Tinder users use it for casual sex. But there are also a lot of people still looking for love.
Other people use it when travelling to find a place to stay. Some people use it just as a vanity game to see how hot they are. The point is, we are not all logging on for a quick shag.
And all the different users know how to identify fellow Tinder kindred spirits. You can tell the type of person you're talking to from the conversation style. If you want a relationship, you don't swipe on the shirtless bro who's shredding for Stereo.
So yes, there are young people interested in casual sex. And yes, they will use Tinder. But there are not suddenly more of them. (They have always been there. Except before they just went clubbing.)
And there have been, and always will be, a significant percentage of young people who want long-term relationships. And now they're on Tinder too. It's just different types of people, looking for different types of things and using Tinder in different ways.
So what I'm saying is, don't panic.
I know this anxiety can come from a bunch of concerned parents. And I understand why you'd be worried. But there has not been a sudden dissolution of young people's moral standards.
We are not about to storm the streets and start squirting lube everywhere. We're just the same as we always were. We're still looking for love as much as we're looking for lust. Just like every other generation before us.