In a world that has grown so cold and impersonal it is funny how we go about making friends these days. When I was young we met new people at school, the library, roller rink, and other events which required us to meet that person directly face to face and in person. Today, with the advent of computers and the evolution of software to create social media has changed the world in many ways. One of which is how we meet and interact with people. With the internet and then social media barriers and borders were crossed and people started to communicate with people all across the world. No longer did it actually matter where you lived physically you could and do meet them virtually.
There are all sorts of dating sites and sites designed for you to meet other people casually and there are also sites and applications that let you meet someone looking for a hook up. But, how do you know if you like the person, how can you be sure that the idea of the person you have in your head is actually the person you are talking to? See, I believe that each of us creates and image of the person in our heads, we base our image on what their profile says, the pictures that are posted, what they have posted and if you have taken the step to communicate with them directly either over the phone or via video chat.
What happens when you are ready to take that step and meet them socially out in public, face to face? Is it possible to truly get to know someone on line? Maybe, but here is my concern about this growing new way of meeting people. Last night I was talking to you about how to build trust and make a firm foundation for your relationship or friendship, but what do you really know about the cyber person you have been talking to? Is that really a current picture of him? Has he been telling you the truth about himself or has he just been telling you stuff that he thinks you want to hear? Remember you have put yourself on line, you have created a profile and told people about yourself. What happens when that person is less than truthful and has taken your information off your profile and uses it to make you believe that they are the perfect match for you?
I was reminded just yesterday that this world can be a very dangerous place and there are people out there that have no moral code or ethics. They have no conscience and have the potential to hurt you, and possibly even kill you. Several years ago there was a killer that was preying on women on Craigslist, he would entice these women to meet him and he would kill them. They appropriately name him the Craigslist killer. My point to all of this is to remind you that not everyone is truthful, not everyone has your best interest at heart. There are people out there that prey on the perceived weaknesses of others.
I am not saying that the person you are talking too is any of those things. However, I want you to be careful, use your head and some common sense before running off to someone's house or hotel. Make sure that someone knows where you are going, and who you are going to see. That way God forbid something were to happen to you, the person you told can do something about it if you are gone to long or don't call in at a certain time. They will know that you are in trouble and can send some help.
With the internet came bulletin boards where you could post ads like you would in the classified section of the news paper. I actually met, Joe, a person I was with for 12 1/2 years via a bulletin board back in 1996 and we moved to Atlanta together in February of 1997.
But I was cautious when I met him. He was staying out at Lake Buena Vista, right outside of Disney World in Orlando. The first time I went to see him I had invited my best friend John along. John did show up but I had already gone into the hotel and went up to his room. However, I was on my cellphone with John telling him everything in case something went wrong. Nothing did and I found out that we really were attracted to each other. John showed up about 45 minutes later and we all went out to dinner and had a good time. Joe ended up coming back to Florida 3 more times after that, and I met up with him every time he came. Eventually he invited me to come to Atlanta and see what it was like. I immediately fell in love with the city and before you knew it I was packing a U-haul truck and moving up there full time. Joe moved into the apartment with me and within 6 months we put a down payment on a house and we moved into it together. My dream was coming true.
But the times have changed and the way we communicate has changed drastically from then. Back in the late 90's cell phones were still pretty big and we had pagers, and someone would page us and we would return the call. Back then there was no such thing as unlimited talk, text and web. Really there was no web back then either. You dialed up directly to a bulletin board or you used AOL which was an early precursor to Facebook. Today, everyone is texting , calling, snap chatting, video messaging and using Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Because of these new forms of communication we have a new type of relationship that has been born. It is the virtual relationship or friendship. However, somethings get lost in translation. You cannot tell someone's mood or attitude in a text message or instant message. You can't physically see the person or their body language you can just see the plain old text on the screen.
I have found myself getting hurt by text messages from time to time, but then I think back about how I really don't know what context the person is talking from, I cannot tell if they are having a bad day or that they are pissed off at me, or whatever the situation maybe. Text messages are void of emotion, and you must take them exactly that way. At least when you are talking to someone on the phone you can hear the emotions in their voice and you pretty much can gather and tell how they are feeling during your conversation. I know I have touched on this subject before, but it was quite a while ago, and it has been on my heart to talk about it again, and this time get a little more in-depth with it.
Let us assume that you have not met this person yet, you are still building your cyber or virtual friendship and you are trying to get to know each other a little better. You may have even started talking to them on the phone. You are beginning to think that you are really into this person. They are matching up with all the bullet points of what you are looking for, they have a beautiful voice and great pictures to show you what they look like. Something happens inside of you, you start to build a mental picture of this person, you start to give it the attributes that your virtual friend is displaying and eventually you come up with a model or a mental image of what the person is supposed to be like. But what happens when and if you do actually get to meet the person face to face. 9 times out of 10 the image you have created for the person is inaccurate. Because of this you might feel a bit of disappointment or it could go the other way that the person exceeded your image of them and turned out to be so cool that you wanted to learn everything about them and explore every inch of them and their personality.
You may be asking yourself why am I going on about this. For several reasons actually, I feel that the traditional venues of meeting people has taken a back seat and virtual communication and dating has become the norm in today's society. One of my concerns is that every year a million people in the United States alone go missing. Then there is the lack of human interaction, actually getting to know a person, their moods, the tone and timber or their voice. You miss out on the body language, and if you have started living with this person or even just hanging out and doing things together, the vernier or mask that the person is wearing tends to come off and you catch a glimpse of the person inside. Let's face it we all put on a mask when we meet someone for the first time. We are on our best behavior, we dress nicely and we try to make the first impression a good one. But, when the honeymoon period is over, and you start to see the real person who is lurking behind the mask it might be too late to get the hell out of dodge. Plus there is the real physical risk that when you go to meet this cyber friend that they may not be anything like what you had thought and they have come to hurt you, rob you or even kill you.
There are some crazy messed up people in the world and you have to think of your own safety and well being, if you don't no body else will either. Protect yourself, never meet someone by yourself, be prepared for anything. I have been luckier than most, I have met some really cool people on line that I like to socialize with and hangout with them. Then there have been some that had misrepresented themselves either in their profile or their pictures. So I end up leaving hurt and upset. Because my ideal of the person (image) has been shattered by reality and they weren't anything like I had expected. Then there is the rare breed of people that are just who they are, they don't try to impress you, they are just being themselves, and those are the types of people I like to be around. Without the physical interaction of two people how can there be chemistry, how can a person really tell if the person they have met on line is really into them? The other person can tell you anything and you can take it at face value or you can analyse it and pull it apart and try to figure it out. But the truth of the matter we are social beings and we need to have human contact and interaction.
I do believe that one good thing comes out of a cyber relationship, it is a mental connection, a mental attraction, and if the person truly is being just themselves, then you are going to find a relationship that has some potential to grow. It might be difficult because both of you have preconceived notions about each other due to your online profiles and conversations. You are going to find most times that those image totally don't fit. You have to start over with the traditional method of getting to know someone. You have to go out on dates, get to know one another and explore each other, feel each other out and seriously get to know one another. Keep in mind what I told you about trust just last night. You have to give it to receive it, and it has be cultivated and built by both of you being 100 % honest with each other. Trust is a big issue in relationships, and it is critical to maintain a successful relationship. Trust me when I tell you that if you trust your partner and know that they are standing strong with you and that you have each others backs. Your relationship will be able to withstand anything that is thrown at it.
Be careful where you go, tell someone who you are going to meet and where. Be sure to have your cell phone with you in case you have to make an emergency call. Don't automatically trust everyone because there are people out there that are just looking for a way in to rob you, steal your identity or just drain you dry. I do try to look for the good in people, but I have trust issues, it is hard for me to let someone get close to me, it is even harder for me to trust them. I honestly believe that has kept me alive all these years, because I tell you in my 20's and 30's I didn't hesitate to run out and meet someone to have sex with in the middle of the night. I don't know how many times in my life that I could have been killed I thank God daily for protecting me with His angels and for giving me the wisdom to write stuff like this that might even save one persons life.
Please check out my other entry on this subject it is called Technology brings us closer together. It can be found in my 2012 postings.
As always my hopes and dreams are with you,