As with so many contemporary tech gaffes, it’s impossible to read Tinder’s screed and not think of Silicon Valley, in which every CEO talks about their startup like it’s a nonprofit and Google Hooli head Gavin Belson fears that other companies might “make the world a better place better than we do.” Just like no trend piece about kids today can admit that everything’s probably going to work out just fine, no tech company can admit it’s anything less than a force for social change.
The reality, as anyone who’s ever used Tinder or encountered other humans can guess, is that an app isn’t intrinsically good or evil. It’s a company that ultimately wants to make money, not destroy marriages or restructure our society or gather a representative sampling of the world’s population on a hilltop in a powerful moment of connection/consumption. And in the process of making money, it sometimes enables humanity’s baser instincts. (I’m talking, of course, not about consensual hookups, but the scourge of inept, unsolicited sexts that is engulfing us all.)
Before this minor Internet spectacle disappears from our Twitter feeds for good, it’s worth appreciating Vanity Fair‘s ability to draw out both the worst of sexual concern-trolling and wide-eyed tech utopianism. We live in a world where it’s impossible to admit an app or the meet-ups it facilitates could be value-neutral, and that’s the biggest punchline of all.