The Dangers of Online Dating
Over the years the trend of online dating has increased dramatically. It has become more popular over the years due to all of its many benefits, like easy access to millions of people, the ability to talk to people with having to meet face to face. Unfortunately, every great thing comes with risks, and if you are not careful the risks can be life-altering. Will the risks of online dating outweigh the benefits? Commercials and advertisements only show the good side of online dating, but I feel people should be aware of the dangers as well.
There are many sites dedicated to online dating. Most sites try to appeal to a certain group of people. Sites like Christian Mingle appeal to Christians, while Farmers Only appeals to people who like to farm. Tinder is another site that usually appeals to the younger generation. There are many sites like these that appeal to people of certain backgrounds, sexualities, and hobbies. Other sites like eHarmony and Match.com appeal to no specific person. Every one of these sites still works the same way, you create a profile, you answer questions about your likes and dislikes, your hobbies, dreams, family, and education. After creating your profile, the site finds “matches”, which are people who you share similarities with. When looking through your matches and you find a person that you like, you start a conversation with them and hopefully begin to date. Online dating is very simple and that alone attracts many people to want to try it out, but what people do not realize is that there are many dangerous things that can happen to you when you choose to meet strangers online.
When meeting someone through an online site the only thing you know about them is what they tell you and what they put on their profile. This fact alone puts you at risk for many dangerous outcomes. One of the less dangerous risks is being catfished. Catfished is when someone creates an online profile but uses someone else’s pictures and information. The catfisher usually is a person who is uncomfortable with their own appearance, so they hide behind someone else’s pictures. They then befriend the victim and usually catch feelings for one another. MTV has a tv show that is named Catfished. When someone is in a strictly online relationship and think they are being catfished, they contact the show to find out the truth. Nev and Max set out to investigate the person in question and try to decide if they are real or fake.
They then take the person who contacted the show and brings them to meet the person they are dating. Sometimes they are telling the truth but most of the time they are caught trying to be someone else. In this tv show, most of the catfishers do not mean any harm but feel as if the victim would not have given them the chance if they knew what they really looked like. Sometimes there is a happy ending and the victim forgives the catfisher, other times it makes the victim feel like they cannot trust that person anymore, so they end the relationship.
Not every risk is as harmless as being catfished. Even though you talk to this person and feel like you know them does not mean you know what their true motives are. When talking to people online you are essentially taking the chance of talking to a con-artist, rapist, or a murderer. Con-artists like to manipulate people into doing things for them, like giving them money or doing a crime. The person who is being manipulated usually does not even notice until it is too late. By the time the authorities are notified the con-artist is long gone, and sometimes hard to trace if they used false information to make their profile. A lot of rape victims say they met their abuser online. Some rapists talk to the victim, ask them out on a date with the sole intention of raping them. Other times the rapists earn their trust, takes them on a date and tries to persuade the victim to have sex with them. When the victim says no, the rapists will continue anyways. Unfortunately, murderers think the same way. Sometimes the murder’s sole intention is to murder the victim. Other times the victim does something the murder does not like, which results in their death.
Carole Markin, whose children fell victim to rape after she met someone online, filed a lawsuit for dating sites to change their policies. The lawsuit resulted in Match.com, and other companies, doing background checks on every applicant before their account is approved. They are required to report any knowledge or suspicions of criminal activity to the Attorney General’s Office. They also try to verify the information given to them to create profiles. (Coleman) These procedures help to minimize the chance of falling victim to con-artists, rapists, and murder’s but it does completely eliminate it.
If you can look past all the possible dangers, or take extreme caution when meeting new people, there are several benefits to online dating. Online dating gives people who suffer from social anxiety and other social disorders. The chance to meet and talk to people who they would otherwise be too scared to talk to. Some people want to date but cannot seem to find the time to go out and meet new people. This is where dating sites come in handy. Online dating sites allow you to meet people without having to actually go out and find them, it also gives you access to people who you would otherwise never have access to. It connects you to people all over the world, not just your hometown. Another benefit of online dating is that the site matches you with people who share a common interest, lifestyles, etc. This prevents you from wasting time getting to know someone that you have absolutely nothing in common with. Online dating can be very useful, but it is always best to take precautions when you plan to meet someone off the internet in person.
The danger of meeting someone from the internet not only applies to dating sites but to other online sites like Craigslist. Recently I read a news article where a guy would advertise on Craigslist as a Santa for hire. Customers would hire him to dress up as Santa for parties and other events for children. He has done this type of work for 30 years. What people did not know was that he was a registered sex offender. Many unknowing families put their children in the presence of a sex offender without even realizing it. He did not try to hurt any of the children but what if he would have? That is such a scary thought.
When doing anything online whether trying to find the love of your life or trying to find someone to do a job for you always be mindful of the potential dangers. There is no real way to eliminate the dangers associated with online, you can only try to make sure you are not putting yourself in a dangerous situation. If you are going on a date, make sure you meet in a public setting and always let someone know where you are at all times. If you are looking to hire someone to do a job for you make sure to do a thorough background check and always check references, especially if they will be around children.