The web is ruining everyone:

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Question. Do men just use Tinder and similar apps for hiring sex workers, or are the users looking for actual dates, or are both sorts on there and if so, how to they figure out who’s on it for what? If Tinder users are actually looking for dates, is it mainly for people just trying to have one-night stands, or are they actually trying to meet people?

I remember thinking online dating was crazy when you can meet people IRL and get a much better idea who you’re asking out before you ask them out. Tinder and phone-dating apps seem positively insane. You still have to meet people IRL to get a read on who they really are. This is basically setting yourself up on blind dates. How is that not less efficient than just sorting through the people you meet IRL? Or have people gotten so neurotic that they can’t stand the idea of people asking each other out in social settings?

Oh yeah, and the brothel owners can go to hell. I may not have a high opinion of online dating, but the idea that people should have to stop doing it to satisfy the entitlement of pimps and madames is ludicrous.

Gotta go, kids on the lawn. Don’t worry, I won’t shoot at them, just lecture them about their lapsarian generation untill they run screaming.


My sister met her current, long-term, live-in boyfriend through Tinder. I haven’t seen fit to ask either of them if they were looking for something long-term at the time, but it’s certainly not just for sex workers.

As someone with social anxiety, that’s easier said than done for some people.[quote=“GulliverFoyle, post:2, topic:95806”]
This is basically setting yourself up on blind dates.

I would pay good money for someone to set me up on blind dates. My primary problem with Tinder and the reason I don’t use it is that, from what I’ve heard, it reduces the entire decision down to an image.

People don’t generally wear nice, big signs saying, “I’m looking for someone to go on a date with.” Or, if they do, I am completely incompetent at reading those signs.

On the one hand, I acknowledge that the formalized sex business is probably safer for all involved, compared to unregulated sex work on Tinder. On the other hand, it’s foolish to prop up a failing business model that’s being undercut due to its inability to innovate to keep up with the times.


Up front, thank you for the answers. I’m genuinely curious what draws people to online dating.

I can see that. But you still meet them IRL eventually. Is it the knowledge that both you and the other person have agreed to meet beforehand? Is the anxiety primarily over worrying about bothering uninterested people?

On the one hand, I can see the appeal of professional matchmakers. But on the other hand, I don’t have a great deal of confidence in most people’s character judgement, and chemistry is so complicated that I can’t think of anyone who I know who I’d trust with that responsibility. But I certainly can’t argue that it’s not still better than going by a selfie.

Okay, fair enough. When I was on the market, if I was interested in someone, I looked to see if they were putting out a vibe that said not interested in even being asked out. If I read it, I didn’t ask. But if that vibe wasn’t there, I asked. Sometimes I got rejected. Sometimes the rejections were evasive, which was annoying, but not something I can criticize to harshly in a world where some men handle rejection very very poorly. I never got an irate rejection.

The main issue I ran into was that I never cared much for dating someone romantically until I got to know them, and I was generally pretty happy if I got a friend or even just a casual acquaintance out of it. But sometimes, by no means always, the default assumption of some women was that men were only interested in getting to know them romantically or sexually. In those cases I usually just moved on because trying to overcome people’s skepticism or disbelief in male-female friendships was not worth the time or effort.

Anyway, while I can understand the appeal of clearer intentions on both ends, the shallowness of Tinder, and even online dating seems too high a price to pay for that. But to each their own.

I’m HFA, diagnosed at a young age. So I spent most of my life systematically analyzing interpersonal signaling. As such I’ve gotten at least as good at it as most people to whom understanding those signals comes intuitively and naturally. And even for me, it’s difficult. So I do sympathize with the challenge and I don’t think it makes you especially incompetent. After all, a lot of people have turned to online dating in a fairly short time. I have to believe the difficulty of reading people you don’t really know is part of the reason for that trend.

I’m not sure I agree. Do these so-called regulations serve to protect the sex workers from predatory behavior, or simply put them in one location where creeps can find them, allowing pimps and madames to exploit them and the state to tax them? I’m not particularly convinced government officials are better suited to watch-out for sex workers than sex workers, and I’m sure the sex workers’ well-being is less of a concern to the bureaucrats and lawmakers than it is to the sex workers. Legalized brothels seem mainly like a way to put restrictions on sex workers and justify increased penalties for those who don’t work inside the system. Personally, my default position is to be against government telling women how and when to use their bodies and for what.


The anxiety is mainly about the fact that these are people I’m somehow associated with through an activity, and I’d rather not make that activity awkward for either of us.

Jumping into a long-term relationship based on someone else’s say-so? Certainly not. But I would trust a matchmaker’s judgement to say, “Here’s someone interesting and available that you might want to meet,” with the understanding that I’d work out the character judgement and chemistry bits myself.

See: why I don’t use Tinder, above.

I’m one-for-a-number-much-larger-than-one in asking people out. Nearly all of the people in the larger-than-one side of the equation were in relationships with other people (or said that they were). In almost every case, I got a vibe of “interested.” The one person I did ask out successfully, I didn’t get a good vibe from. My vibe-sense is catastrophically bad, and attempts to train it have been similarly ineffective.


Agreed in principle, but when someone starts offering a service for a price, it is certainly within the purview of the government to make sure that the service offered is safe for the customer, and that the workplace is safe for the worker. Is restricting sex work to brothels the only way to accomplish this? Probably not. But it makes enforcing safety regulations easier if there’s fewer workplaces to inspect.


It seems like, for Tinder at least, there’s a cost to it (judgement on pictures) we both agree outweigh the benefits. Granted for me it’s academic, but I simply feel the costs of online dating also outweigh the benefits. That’s a personal sense though, and I’m not judging anyone who feels the benefits outweigh the costs. Everyone’s personality and circumstances are different.

For me it’s not really about principle as brass tacks. Are sex workers safer in legalized brothels? I strongly doubt it. I think if lawmakers really wanted to make sex workers safer, they would not create or perpetuate a situation where those who are self-employed are unable to report abusive johns to law enforcement without self-incriminating. The one thing I’ll tentatively agree is beneficial for the sex workers is medical testing, but I kind of doubt the johns are required to have regular tests. And even in sex work where both parties are legally required to have regular tests, namely the American porn industry, you still periodically here about outbreaks of disease among the sex workers. So I say tentatively because I’m not convinced it’s particularly effective, good idea though testing is, especially when only the sex workers are required to be tested (I might be wrong about this, maybe johns to have to submit recent medical test results).


For Nevada, which has legalized brothels, I find lots of people arguing both sides: that they’re safer, and that they’re not. I think it’s a question that needs actual study, and the laws should be based on that.


I’d say that john testing should certainly be mandatory (and I doubt it is, anywhere). And I don’t see any way of making that feasible without restricting sex work to brothels (or similar professional premises).


I agree. I just think sex workers should decide where that is.


Except that it’s a bit the opposite for many people. Most IRL interactions are banal safe small-talk and chit-chat that tell you nothing about a person. Online, people often open up and express themselves and talk about deeper things. Asking out random strangers IRL is more like setting yourself up on blind dates. And once out of school, most people encountered IRL are just that - random strangers like the cashier ringing you up at the store, the person sitting next to you on the bus, someone waiting to cross the street at the same intersection, someone else who happens to be at the same bar. If you hit on those people, you are likely to seem creepy and/or desperate. The only people that most people are likely to spend time with IRL and might actually get to know are their coworkers, and since so many people are averse to relationships with coworkers/bosses/subordinates, that can have its own problems.

I never tried a dating app, but I did meet my wife online. We got to know each other quite well over time before we ever met in person. It was a message board not entirely unlike this one. I would guess that dating apps would give a similar ability to talk first and get to know each other a bit more than just some random stranger that you’ve only had a few minutes of small-talk with IRL before you both have to decide whether to go on a date. And it would have the added efficiency that you both know from the start that the other is potentially interested in dating someone.

None of that really relates to the topic of sex workers, of course. But it sounds like the article is saying that they’re upset that they have fewer customers now because the dating apps have removed the barriers that exist to meeting people IRL so their former customers don’t need them anymore.

Random thought - brothels are a thing some places, but you never hear of sisthels.


Interesting. I guess I just avoid those conversations. I will happily find an excuse to strike up an interesting conversation with people I’ve just met or barely know, but I rarely bother with banal conversations unless it’s the pro-forma courtesy of please and thank you and I only have the one bag to check and the like. In social settings, at parties, events and just an evening out on the town, I can’t imagine enduring boring conversations and I can’t imagine subjecting others to boring conversations. There’s always weird stuff in the world and always an excuse to bring some of it up, or I invent an excuse.

Ah, I see what you mean. I usually waited until I got to know someone, usually after meeting them a few times in a group social setting. I’m not saying I knew them well by then, but I still feel a few freewheeling conversations in person was more informative for both parties than it would have been online. Not only did it allow us to read each others non-textual cues, but it allowed seeing how each other interacted with other people. I can see how online dating could provide some of that depth, but apps like Tinder seem the opposite of that with their swipe the picture business model.

the default assumption of some women was that men were only interested in getting to know them romantically or sexually.

I have noticed as I have gotten older, it is more and more rare to make a random female friend. My guess is the above. So much so that a few years ago I did make a random female friend who shortly after would call just to shoot the bull every few months, and I thought it very odd at first.

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If it wasn’t for online dating, I would still be single.

I never met single women, have no idea how to even start conversations with people when I don’t know them (I am truly hopeless at talking to strangers at all, on any subject), have no idea how to pivot from talking to someone interesting to turning that into a romantic conversation, would anyway be worried about making unwelcome advances and ruining friendships, and I am catastrophically bad at reading body language.

Being able to write to people and establish that they were in fact interested in dating, and potentially dating me before I met them in person made it a million times easier.

I suspect I make much better first impressions online than in real life, too.


If it wasn’t for online dating, many people would still be married.


You don’t think the cheaters would have found another way to cheat?

Or you don’t think they’d have gotten caught?


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