Have you met somebody in real life that you first connected with online?
Back when the internet was new to all of us and we were wading around in its depths trying to figure out safety parameters, it was advised to never meet up with somebody you had only met online.
Yes, undoubtedly there are horrific events that have taken place after somebody met an online acquaintance in real life.
I know people are still very apprehensive, and there are certainly reasons for concern. However, I personally believe in expecting things to work out rather than living life in fear of all that can go wrong. There are tips to take to make meeting an online contact in real life safer.
Personally our family has now met a handful of other traveling families in person because we or they have discovered the other one online and we chose to make our paths cross. All of them were safe and fun encounters, and some of them have remained friends.
Two of our daughters have met up with people they met online by various means. The younger of the two met other teens in a closed online writing group, and our family stopped in to meet her on our travels thru Colorado way back in 2012. In 2013 she caught a ride with the same girl to attend a writing camp with others from the writing group online.
The elder of our girls has befriended a few guys online thru playing games and after extended times of being friends she has actually met several of them in real life.
And then there’s online dating sites. I personally know several people who not only used the services, but married somebody they discovered via the online dating site.
It’s a new day!
Back in June Everette and I spent Father’s Day in a whirlwind weekend away at a conference with SFM (love that community!!) We ended up with a sucky 10 hour layover at DFW airport. Fortunately for us my online friend Cindy was willing to risk her own capture and murder by suggesting that she pick Everette and I up and take us for a break for a few hours.
She was given warnings on her end that we might not be trustworthy, that ‘Karen Johnson’ could easily be an alias. Cindy’s biggest concern was that we would kidnap her and force her to Mexico to be with alllllll our kids!
No, Cindy didn’t seem concerned at all.
Doesn’t mean she didn’t take any type of precaution. And so should you (and me!) If you are meeting someone you met online there are a few things to consider. Note: these will vary depending on if your ‘meeting’ is for a transaction, or you’ve established more of a personal relationship online.
- Always meet in a public place.
- Let your friends and family know what’s up. Share what information you have about the person you are meeting along with your scheduled meeting place and time. They can even be discretely present :) like sitting at another table nearby in a cafe or restaurant.
- If you’re making a transaction such as selling/buying off of Craigslist, then having a friend go with you is appropriate. Maybe not so much if its an actual date :) But consider this: instead of your first meet-up being officially a date, why not arrange for the potential to meet up with you and some friends instead? Then if you all get along and its mutual, go alone for a date.
- Have your cell phone charged and easily accessible. Set up your phone with an app like Moby that allows you to purposely share your location with your trusted friends/family. The app isn’t as safe as taking somebody with you, but not all situations suit a third-wheel.
- There’s no reason to reveal too much information about yourself online. However, at the same time its good if you can gather as much information about the other person as they are willing to share.
- I always snoop FB profiles and other social media to see what type of person they AND their friends are. If their friends seem unsavory then I am less likely to pursue any friendship.
- Its also highly recommended that you speak with the person on the phone before ever agreeing to meeting them. Even for those of us telephobians you can easily discover whether the supposedly 20-something chick is a forty-something dick. And for those who can read vibrations better, it can be a telltale to stay away. Or not. Skype is another option.
- Never get into a vehicle with someone you don’t know to be trustworthy. That’s an obvious.
So, Cindy and I arranged on short notice for her to pick us up from DFW airport and take us out for lunch. We had never talked on the phone, not over Skype either, but we were involved in a few of the same business opportunities, had had many online chats over a couple of seasons and felt very comfortable about the arrangement. I also had Everette along for the ride. Yes, we went in her vehicle to some unknown destination….a whole lot of Don’ts.
And I lived to tell about it.
Now, I don’t mean to be smug. It could have all turned out bad. But here’s how it turned out….
Cindy took us to Grapevine, a western looking town of course because this is Texas! We sampled a kazillion flavored balsamic vinegars and olive oils (like in Tubac, AZ) as appetizers before she treated us to lunch at a cute place filled with Eiffel Towers that served up yummy food. You can tell we were under tons of stress meeting up!!!! Fear written all over our faces.
So Cindy….it was great meeting up with you. Thanks for the ‘date’ and all the laughs. Thanks for being a real friend in spite of it starting online. Your daughter is always saying how wonderful of a person you are, and I see it for myself now. I’m glad we met up for real.