I think we need to brush up on our STI transmission knowledge, team. I posted a piece about STIs and smartphone dating apps last year here but we are back to this convo again!!
It’s really frustrating because we are talking about some very basic elements of science:
Understanding cause and effect versus correlation (one thing goes up and something happens to something else at the same time – but it may not be caused by that first thing).
Our latest perpetrator of incorrect causal explanations used to explain rising rates of STIs: Alberta in this recent piece on CBC stating that increasing rates of STIs are due to social media.
But here’s the deal:
Just because people are meeting online, does not mean that they are more likely to get an STI…and this is because…(listen up! this part is mucho important):
Smartphone dating apps, online dating sites, or any other social media site are not responsible for transmitting STIs to anyone. PEOPLE ARE.
More correctly, people not engaging in safer sex practices and/or not talking to their partners about safer sex (“Hey, when is the last time you got tested?”) and thinking that their sexual partners look ‘safe’ even though they may not be and lots of STIs are asymptomatic so it’s a inaccurate assumption…..
= THAT is what contributes to increased rates of STIs.
Now serendipitous or not, I’m working with some students right now to analyze if people who meet on Tinder versus more traditional online dating sites (e.g., Plenty of Fish, Match.com) or people who met at school or work or who met at the bar or at a party are ‘better’ at having safer sex.
No one is.
Everyone is basically shit for engaging in safer sex. THAT is the real problem here.
We just love finding the quick and dirty scapegoat to take the fall.
So again, everyone:
Take a breath and be critical thinkers for just a few minutes while we ponder the real cause of increased STI infection rates.
Don’t worry Tinder, I got your back, dawg.