The Safety of Meeting Online Friends
Social networking sites have bloomed in fame dissimilar to whatever else on the Internet. The Internet permits individuals to connect from everywhere throughout the world.
Although it’s exciting meeting new people every day, there are also some precautions you should take for your own safety.
The Internet gives people the freedom to re-invent themselves and be persons they may not be in real life. It’s not uncommon for people to lie about who they really are and post fake picture to pass themselves off as someone else. News programs have caught predators in the act of trying to proposition children.
The propensity for misrepresentation is higher online than it is face-to-face. During face-to-face interaction, you can listen to a person’s voice inflection or watch body language to determine if they are telling the truth.
Before the Meeting
In order to get to know anyone, you have to open up. Chatting online gives people a false security, and they find themselves opening up with strangers more than their close friends. Don’t be afraid to make connections, but proceed using Internet safety. Nancy Muir and Linda Criddle offer advise for meeting online friends online in their book,”Using the Internet Safely For Seniors for Dummies.”
They advise those online to be sure to ask pointed questions. Check to see if a potential date has a good reputation among other daters online. Trust your instincts. Before the meeting, talk on the phone. Seek direct answers and note any inconsistencies.
During the Meeting
Always meet new Internet friends in well-lit public places. If possible, schedule the meeting during the day. For the first meeting, keep it short and avoid going anywhere private with the person you meet.
Keep your phone on and let your family know where you are and when to expect a call back. If this person is truly going to be your friend, then a private setting can wait for dates in the future.
After the Meeting
First impressions can be misleading. Often when you first meet someone, you make emotional judgments instead of rational ones. Once you have concluded your meeting, don’t go straight home. Linger around a while to make sure you are not followed.
Call your friend or family member once you are safely on your way home. Some time should elapse before you pass judgment on your meeting.
Tamsen Butler, author of “Meeting Your Match Online,” advises that friends and family members give you their opinions about people you are about to meet. Often a third-party opinion can be more objective and pick up on things you might have missed.
Writer Anna Pickard, in a column in the Guardian newspaper, contends that there is no more of a threat in turning Internet friends into “pokable” friends than meeting them the traditional way and that the Internet gives you time to learn of your similarities and differences to make judgments far easier than in the real world.