Here we are in Massachusetts in our third month of shutdown with 2.3X the death rate of never-shut Sweden (some stats). Judging by the shape of the curve of deaths per day, the virus is spreading here at roughly the same rate as it has been spreading in Sweden. Our offices are shut. Our non-essential business are shut. Our flight schools are shut until a bureaucracy can come up with a detailed plan for the few hundred students that might want to fly during the remainder of 2021. Our theaters are shut. Unlike in reopened or never-shut Europe, our schools are shut. How, then, is the virus spreading?
Let’s consider a young healthy person here in Massachusetts. What has he/she/ze/they been able to do?
- play sports with friends: illegal
- meander around a mall: illegal and impossible
- walk outside without a mask: illegal
- go to the movies: illegal and impossible
- go to the gym and get fit: illegal and impossible
- learn to fly: illegal
- go to the local mosque or church: illegal
How about “Meet someone on Tinder, go to that person’s house, have sex, and sleep over”? Legal and possible.
When the only legal option for entertainment, other than watching Netflix, is casual sex, should we be surprised if young people decide that this is how they want to entertain themselves? In my informal survey of people in their 20s and 30s, more than half have no personal fear of contracting coronavirus and all of the single ones continue to be interested in making, um, new connections (and, without even being asked, quite a few admit to having made new connections).
There’s an app, Sensor Tower, that gives insights into traffic on popular dating/sex apps, including, Tinder, Bumble and Grindr … and millions and millions of people are, at the very least, looking for love, and at worst, hooking up with strangers.
If Tinder is the primary app for the most casual of casual encounters, consider this headline: “During coronavirus lockdown, Tinder surpasses Bumble, OkCupid, Hinge downloads”
Why don’t we see evidence of this on social media? From “The Secret Lives of Perfect Social Distancers” (Atlantic):
“When I look at my choices as objectively as possible, I should not be doing this,” a 26-year-old speech pathologist told me, referring to the romance she started a few weeks ago.
The speech pathologist, who asked to not be identified by name to avoid repercussions at work, has been renting a car and driving from her home in Washington, D.C., to her new boyfriend’s home in Baltimore a few times a week, and keeping it a secret from almost everyone she knows.
For now, the speech pathologist has told only a few friends (all of whom got mad) and her mom (who also got mad) about her blossoming relationship.
What is the point of shutting down flight schools, public restrooms, museums (10 visitors per hour at the more obscure ones?), and picnic tables for burger and seafood shacks if strangers are going to meet by the millions every week as part of enjoying the one form of entertainment that remains legal?
(You might ask how casual sexual encounters can explain the high rates of coronaplague and associated deaths in nursing homes here in Massachusetts. Let’s assume that the inmates are not using Tinder, but the workers and the children of the workers probably are. The typical young person who gets infected with coronavirus will not develop a forehead temperature that will stop him/her/zer/them from entering a nursing home to go to work.)