I’m married. Is it wrong to get a Tinder account and look at it, even if I have no intention of contacting anyone?

As a matter of convenience—since your question is low on information—I’m going to make some assumptions about you before we proceed. First, I’m going to assume you are a male and straight. (Maybe I’m succumbing to certain prejudices about straight males; nevertheless, it’s what I’m going to assume.) More important, I’m going to assume you’re a decent person and a loyal partner and take you at your word that you have no intention of cheating on your wife.

Now, having done all that, I’m going to compare you to a snake. The brown tree snake, specifically: Boiga irregularis. Surely you’ve heard of it. It’s fanged, venomous, and can top out at 10 feet long. And there are roughly 1.5 million of them sliding around Guam, a land mass only a fifth the size of Rhode Island

The snake doesn’t belong in Guam; it’s invasive, having likely first arrived there after World War II. (It’s believed that the species—possibly just one pregnant female—stowed away on military equipment.) As its population exploded, the snake devoured the island’s native birds and lizards, literally swallowing many of them into extinction. Brown tree snakes frequently cause power outages on the island. They slip into buildings and garbage cans. They are a menace—ecologically but also just in a nightmarish, snaky way. They have set off chain reactions that no one could have anticipated and that no one wants to put up with.

And so, since 1993, the US government has spent millions of dollars a year trying to contain and eradicate them. It has tried everything, from the commonsensical to the baroque: snake barriers, snake traps, snake-sniffing dogs. In 2013 the US air-dropped 14,000 dead mice affixed with tiny cardboard parachutes and laced with poison. Of this gambit, one federal technician wrote, “It seems simple and straightforward.” Well, not really. But that’s the point—the solutions are just as unimaginable as the problem.

Now, my first reaction to your question was simple. I wanted to butt out. I wanted to say, essentially, that whether you should be allowed to lurk on Tinder is exclusively up to you and your wife. If she’s cool with it and you’re cool with it, what does it matter if it strikes me as weird and, well, a little lecherous? Maybe for you it’s just an innocent form of people watching, a way for you to commune, like some left- and right-swiping Walt Whitman, with the fantastic breadth of humanity.

But the truth is, as fascinated as many of us married people are by Tinder, it’s just not a place for us. We are an invasive species. Granted, we’re not going to gobble up the natives, reproduce like mad, and cause power outages. But no matter your intentions, you will, almost inevitably, cause ancillary and unpredictable disruptions. What if someone likes the look of you and wants to meet? Is it fair to incite that kind of hope—even for a split second—if you are, as you say, unavailable? And who would you be displacing? What if the algorithm shoves you at someone, at a particular moment, instead of an actual Mr. Right? Or Mr. Right Enough? Or Mr. Why the Hell Not? Any number of misters have more legitimacy and claim to that spot than you do.

And that’s just it: You’d be occupying a space you just shouldn’t occupy. The moral question here, I realized, hinges not just on your good faith toward your wife but on your good faith toward the many strangers you’d also—just by virtue of setting up a profile—be entering into a relationship with.

I know you’re not a fundamentally bad or scummy person. (Or so I’ve assumed.) But bear in mind that none of those 1.5 million snakes is inherently scummy either. They’re all just slithering around, eating and breeding, storing up their poison, searching out new spaces with their creepy wet tongues.