Check your privilege, Tinder

Check your privilege, Tinder-users, before a pitch-perfect new Tumblr checks it for you.

A screenshot from the blog "Humanitarians of Tinder."
A screenshot from the blog “Humanitarians of Tinder.”

“Humanitarians of Tinder,” as its decidedly tongue-in-cheek name implies, rounds up photos of (predominantly white, middle-class) Tinder users posing with (predominantly poor, barefoot) kids in foreign countries. There are no captions or commentary — the photos basically speak for themselves. This, from the imagination of Nerve’s Liam Mathews, is what they’re saying:

“I went to Africa and Guatemala, and it’s part of my experience, so I can show a picture of me smiling with a gaggle of pantless brown children on my Tinder. It happened. It’s not bragging about how worldly and selfless and kind and humble I am. I just am.”

A couple obvious problems here: (1) the questionable ethics of turning a child into a prop in your dating profile; (2) the inherent racial, cultural and socioeconomic privilege therein; (3) the cringe-inducing faux-martyrdom of the whole thing; (4) the ultimate, maddening fact that showing off your “selflessness” is not even an effective way to get a date. (Per Wired, the most attractive words you can use in your profile are variations on surfing, yoga, London and New York … “volunteering” and “Guatemala City” don’t even crack the top 200.)

Of course, social media shaming is not a particularly clean or fair process, either. As I’ve written here before, shaming all too frequently divorces online behavior from its context — for all we know, Lauren (pictured at top) is playing with her nephew or something. Even more concerning, shaming often invites repercussions that are totally out of proportion with the perceived crime —  i.e., Lauren may seem tone deaf, but does she really deserve to have her face plastered on a zillion sites?

Then again, Lauren chose to represent herself this way, on a forum where your only goal is looking your best. Presumably, she likes the photo. She may even be proud of it! Maybe Humanitarians of Tinder is doing her a service.

Caitlin Dewey runs The Intersect blog, writing about digital and Internet culture. Before joining the Post, she was an associate online editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.
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