This is worth keeping in mind whenever a new moral panic isafoot.
Reading Sales’ article, you’d think Tinder had wiped out all these millennials like, well, that aforementioned asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs.
But here’s the thing: Tinder had a point, at least about the way Sales portrays modern dating.” This is a well-worn nerdism, but it reveals an important truth: When we consider our experiences and those of our friends and family, we’re only getting a tiny chunk of the full story of humanity.
In that town over there, or in that state on the other side of the country, things might be very, very different, and it would be a mistake to extrapolate from our little slice of the world.
It’s one thing to write an ethnographic piece about Tinder-maters in their natural habitat; it’s another to extrapolate this to make sweeping claims about the epochal ways dating and sex are changing. Wandering about and talking to people is important — is, in fact, a cornerstone of journalism — but there are inherent limitations to it.
There will inevitably be some bias in who you talk to, or in who’s willing to talk to you; in Sales’ case, we hear almost exclusively from young, single people who are active (sometimes overactive) Tinder users, and almost entirely from men who are constantly looking for casual sex.
For the article, Sales conducted “interviews with more than 50 young women in New York, Indiana, and Delaware, aged 19 to 29,” as well as many men, and it adds up to a series of sleazy, depressing stories.