I’m of the generation where my teenage life took place largely online. I wasn’t the most popular girl in school, so I gravitated towards online social media to make some new friends – after all, you can be anyone you like online. That, however, is the danger of meeting online.
Throughout my years on various social networks, I have been lucky enough to meet some amazing people – 2 of my close friends I met through social media, that’s also where I met Joe – but I’ve also been unlucky to fall victim to fake profiles.
One girl faked a profile, got caught, apologised and then did it again! When we found her out I confronted her and she still stuck to her story that she was the real person. Other profiles, I’m not 100% sure are fake, but i do have my suspicions. Thankfully, I’m not in contact with those people anymore – I found friends in real life!
Remember, there are always ways to make sure someone is real while you’re talking to them – think Catfish tactics – and if they’re not willing to prove themselves, but want a friendship, I’d be wary. It doesn’t mean they are lying, but it is a bit of a warning sign. Skype is an amazing thing – I used MSN back in the day when that’s where the cool kids were – and it’s so easy to just click on the little webcam button! But that’s for you guys to decide.
I’m not saying I’d recommend meeting people online, as nothing beats meeting someone in real life and having all the little awkward moments getting to know each other, but I also wouldn’t write it off. I mean, without online meeting, I wouldn’t have two of my closest friends or my fiance. And, isn’t a blog a kind of social media? I socialise with bloggers everyday with no fear of my personal safety. What I will say, is make sure you know how to stay safe online.
Parents, if any are reading, I’d love to hear your perspectives. With so much going on online now, and so many ways to access the internet, are you worried about what your children are up to online? Have you spoken to them about how to stay safe online and what response did you get?
For those of you who have had similar experiences to mine – or completely different – have your online experiences changed the way you interact with people over the internet?
I’ve learned from a lot from my mistakes when meeting people online, and I’m not really on the social media scene now – aside from the usual Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – and I’ve made friends in the real world, even bringing some of my “online friends” into that world!
As Joe says to me every day when I leave for work “Have fun, stay safe”.