There are lots of ways to meet people these days. There is the more traditional route of through a friend or when out you ask for their number and go on dates. Then there are more 21st century methods such as online dating and even chat rooms. We all remember being sixteen and using instant messenger to talk to our friends in the evening, sometimes even a friend of a friend who we’d met once and didn’t really know but they’re in a band and cute so it seemed fine. But what if you’re not sixteen, you don’t know the person and it soon it becomes more than just a few messages and the occasional listen of their latest MySpace song. There are more and more people that get chatting to strangers in a chat room, it turns to flirting which leads to texting and calling. There are people who fall in love with a person they have never met.
Now this idea in its self is a little strange to me, perhaps just because I have not been in this situation myself (I find it hard to read the tone of messages if I don’t know someone). However, thanks to a brand new TV show appearing on a popular channel people are now becoming aware of the possibility that the person you love online is actually a Catfish. What is a Catfish I hear you ask, it is a person who creates a fake online identity. So the person you chat with online that tells you that they are a personal trainer and has a convertible could actually be a married middle aged carpet salesman who speaks to ten different girls online at once. These people do not always have bad intentions, but you never know.
So I have come up with a few quick and easy tips to help you avoid being tricked by someone you meet online!
1) Ask for an up to date picture of them, one way to ensure it is recent is if you ask them to hold a piece of paper with your name on in the picture.
2) Skype the person! It is safer than meeting in person and gives you a chance to have a proper conversation.
3) Google them! Most people who use the internet a lot will have probably joined a few different websites or started a blog. See if the information you find about them matches what they have told you.
4) If they make lots of excuses to not meet in person or if you notice that they block you from seeing certain things on their social profiles, this may be cause for concern.
5) Most importantly, if you do meet up take a friend with you! You may feel embarrassed but it is better safe than sorry.
Dating and chatting to new people can be fun, just remember to be smart about it so you can enjoy it with peace of mind.