There’s an App for That: Hysteria Over Technology-Fueled STDs?

The other article, the one this blogpost has referenced in its title, is called “Rhode Island Blames STD Spike on Hookup Apps Like Tinder”, Erin Shumaker, Huffington Post, 5/26/2015.

Basically, the Rhode Island Dept of Health states that the rise in STDs is facilitated by the ease in which people can find partners for casual sex through apps like Tinder.  According to the article

 “Syphilis cases in Rhode Island increased by 79 percent between 2013 and 2014 while gonorrhea cases increased by 30 percent. Newly identified HIV cases increased by almost 33 percent,,,”

“Young people between the ages of 15 and 24 were more likely than any other group to be infected with chlamydia and gonorrhea. Men who have sex with other men made up 75 percent of primary and secondary syphilis cases, the two most infectious stages.” (Ibid)

Sigh.  Yes, and when the birth control pill first came out, there was also a rise (supposedly) in STDs.  There’s always someone around to simplify things, right?

The fact is, though, people have always found it rather easy to find sex partners, particularly in the age group mentioned.  For our generation, it was parties, bars, rock concerts, and (sometimes) political demonstrations.

Later on, it was chatrooms and bulletin boards that facilitated “hookups”.  Now it is Facebook, chat to a lesser extent, Craigslist, and apps like Tinder.

The point is, people will adapt to whatever they can use to get whatever they want, and that includes sex.

The article also cites a study conducted in 2013 titled “Internet’s Dirty Secret: Assessing the Impact of Online Intermediaries on HIV Transmission”, and it was written by two business administration majors.  Not psychology majors.

The link doesn’t state anything about methods, because it is only an abstract.  The authors state they only used “a national experiment set up”.   They claim to have “investigated” Craigslist online ads for a 10 year period, and that they controlled for “extraneous factors” (but don’t say which ones).

And, as the title suggests, their conclusion smacks of morality:

“Individuals are inclined to discount the future value of staying STD/HIV free and put high value on the instant gratification that casual sex offers.” (Huffington Post article referenced previously)

Again, jumping to conclusions that no respectable research psychologist would ever do.  Pretty lame, I think.  The “experiment” also does not address anything but Craigslist, so again we have massive conclusion-jumping on the part of the person who wrote this article in the Huffington Post.

The earth-shattering suggestion on how to deal with this growing menace?

Encourage young people to speak with their doctors.

Because, you know, that will solve everything.  I guess it’s a bonus that the article didn’t suggest something like banning the Tinder app, or censoring websites, etc.   But it certainly attempts to rile people up about it and maybe the public will take up a hue and cry.

I won’t ask questions such as, “Where did peoples’ critical thinking skills go?” because I don’t recall the public, as a whole, ever having critical thinking skills.  It wasn’t taught in schools when I was young, and I don’t think it’s taught in school now – except in the sciences, and mostly in college.

In a world where information is instant now, but peoples’ attention spans seem much shorter than ever before, I can see why some use hysteria to get their stories out there, or to stir up public opinion.  But, as a former researcher it drives me nuts to see this kind of thing, because it is spreading false information and not contributing at all to reasonable public discourse.

To take it further, if legislators are stirred up in this manner, it hurts the population.  Because they then pass laws based on hysteria and bad (or no) science.

It’s kind of terrifying, in a way.

Today’s weirdness comes from UPI – “Man Gets Naked to Protest Overbooked Flight in Charlotte”, Ben Hooper, 5/21/2015.

He got angry that his flight was overbooked, so he stripped and stood around the concourse for about 40 minutes, until he was arrested.   I am guessing he really needed that vacation to de-stress!

No recommendations for books, tv, or movies, but here is a link – also from UPI – to the new Delta Airlines safety video (you know, the one they show at the beginning of your flight):

It uses many internet characters and memes to get the points across, and I think most people will watch it.  I think it’s very clever, and attention-grabbing.  Also cute in places, too.  Good job, Delta!

Be good.  Be kind.   Don’t strip in airports, you’ll embarrass your kids!

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