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March 23, 2017

Technology tries to put an end to stranger danger

by Neva Taylor, Staff Writer
Where only first names appear, names have been changed to protect the identities of the sources.

Summer was getting boring for Lizzie; she had nothing to do and no one to do it with. She needed an adventure and someone to adventure with her. So one day she picked up her phone, went to the app store,and downloaded Tinder. She wasn't looking for a boyfriend, she was really just looking for someone to talk to but soon enough, talking lead to snapchatting which lead to texting which lead to meeting in person and then to dating. Lizzie and Patrick dated for three months.

Early on, Tinder was pegged as a "hook up" app: an app used to meet people, "get physical," and then never see them again. Tinder was for one night stands. Anonymous interactions via the internet have gained popularity over the past couple years. Swipe right, swipe left, meet new people easily and without leaving the comfort of a living room. But now technology is changing the way people think about strangers.
Meeting significant others through Tinder can be unpredictable. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Meeting significant others through Tinder can be unpredictable.

Tinder, Uber and other services that rely on the trust of strangers are changing the way people interact online. Technology is making it easier and faster to meet, talk to, and work with strangers. But is it safe? One of the first lessons kids are taught is to never trust a stranger. Right now Blazers rely on the trust of strangers to get from place to place and to meet new people.

Sophomore Elena Davis-Mercer uses Uber as a convenient way for her and her friends to get around. All you gotta do is open up your phone, set a pickup and dropoff location,and press "find"."I've never had a problem with Uber," she says. Davis-Mercer does admit that if she ever heard about an incident that happened through Uber, she'd stop using it. "The convenience isn't worth it, I have other ways to get around if I heard Uber was unsafe," she explains.

Uber works only if the consumer is willing to put their trust in a complete stranger. The difference between Uber and a regular taxi service is that instead of the drivers being trained company workers, anyone can sign up to be an Uber driver and make some extra money. Although there are some security precautions in place like a background check before being cleared to drive, calling an Uber means trusting a stranger. Uber has become a worldwide phenomenon, driving around one million people per day.
Uber relies on users' blind trust in drivers. Leah Phillips
Uber relies on users' blind trust in drivers.

There are many people, however, who do not feel comfortable with the arbitrary nature of Uber. Junior Noah Singer, for example, chooses to not use the service. "I feel like there's no guarantee that they would necessarily be reliable, the people who were driving, that they wouldn't do something bad," he says. He thinks that people blindly trust strangers too much online. "Technology makes it very easy to create a bond with strangers, but it's not a real bond because they're on a computer," Singer explains.

Even Lizzie admits that the first time she met her Tinder date in real life she was nervous and even a little scared. "I had two friends with me just in case something happened," she says. Nonetheless, Lizzie still uses Tinder and has had other successful relationships with people she met via the app.

In a TED Talk, Harvard professor Rachel Botsman talks about the newfound trust this generation has in strangers. She says that people used to be able to talk to one another only if they were geographically close. As technology advances and location ceases to be an issue people have become more open and more trusting in strangers. Botsman thinks that this new sense of trust can be a good thing. "We can embrace the opportunities to redesign systems that are more transparent, inclusive and accountable," she explains.

Junior Marc Monteil watched the TED Talk in her AP World History class and found it interesting. "I've never really thought about that way. I guess we really are trusting strangers a lot more. It's crazy what technology can do" she says.

At Blair and all across the world, trust is no longer something reserved for friends and loved ones, it can now be accessed through an app. Don't forget what your parents said, stranger danger is still a thing.



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