Most of us nowadays have profiles on most social networking sites, like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and many more. Almost all of us meet new people online, whether for a relationship or not. But, how can we be sure that we’re really talking to that hot guy or gorgeous girl in the pictures they’ve sent us? Truth is, it’s not as easy to tell anymore – as Peter Steiner said, “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” Here are some things to do and keep in mind when searching to find friends and chat online.
- First and foremost, try to figure out if their profile is real. This actually may be the hardest part of all, because it’s so easy to create misleading profiles on any social networking site – all you need is a name and a few pictures. It’s like creating a new lifestyle for yourself online – that’s sure how they see it. I’m not saying you should distrust everyone you talk to. Haven’t you noticed that some people’s profiles just seem fishy enough at the first glance? Try to look for inconsistencies in their timeline, or photographs, or photographs at weird angles, don’t look like themselves in each photo, etc.
- You sure can ask for a lot of photographs, and they might send them to you, but you still can’t be sure that it’s them. They may just be fishing them from somewhere and someone else. Unfortunately, with the volume of pictures that all of us just plaster on our own profiles, it’s fairly easy for someone to just steal them. Here’s a scary thought: have you ever thought that maybe someone is using your own pictures for themselves? (Whoa, I just made myself nervous!) We should be wary of what we post ourselves, and take every photo sent to us with a pinch of salt.
- When finally chatting with someone online, and you talk about your interests, likes and dislikes, too much similarity will seem fake. They must have some kind of different like than you; you guys can’t agree on everything! If you’re both into Norwegian vegetarian death metal, toilet paper haikus and french-dubbed anime, it’s probably just fake interest. This is actually a real-world tip as well, but it’s so much easier to be fake online.
- If they’re too good to be true (heavenly, beautifully airbrushed photos, exactly same likes and dislikes as you, are severely sexually aroused all the time for you and you alone) they probably are too good to be true. We’d all love to have a supermodel body, godlike features, and killer rock-hard abs. Guess what? Hardly any of us are like that! If your “friend’s” pics seem like they’ve been through Photoshop a couple of times, they probably have. And most likely, the person behind that computer screen is exactly the opposite of what the photos say (yes, even gender!)
- If a conversation opens out of the blue by a beautiful young person promising sexual favors or a hot date, you may actually be talking to a chat bot. A chat bot, according to Wikipedia, is “a computer program designed to simulate an intelligent conversation with one or more human users via auditory or textual methods, primarily for engaging in small talk… to entice people into revealing personal information, such as bank account numbers.” You can tell if you’re having a conversation with a chat bot if the answers you get seem childish, or repetitive, or just plain make no sense. It’s like mechanical language – remember, you are just talking with a computer program! These programs were written so spammers can check to see if your email’s live, and most probably try to phish your account username and password out of you. Beware!
- The most scary of all online presences are online predators. By “predators” we mean adults who try to trick people, mostly women and youngsters, in order to get them to meet and possibly engage in deviant sexual activity. Sometimes, the predators pretend that they are of another age group or sex, portraying the young boy or attractive female, so they can convince their “prey” to come and meet them. This is extremely dangerous for small children and teenagers. Read up on parental controls on the Internet, and talk to your children about safety online.
Hopefully, we’ve shed some light on what to be wary of during your chats on the Internet. Do you have any tips or stories you’d like to share? We’d love to hear them!