As social media usage thrives, people have developed this notion that those we can not physically interact with are dangerous and are out to get us. This paranoia is a result of the horror stories we are shown on the news about minors that were kidnapped/murdered after meeting up with 40 year old men pretending to be teenagers online. Because of stories like these, society has this idea that talking to people you don’t know on the web and actually becoming friends with them is just asking to be hurt. What the media fails to highlight is that among the senior citizen pedophiles there are normal people just like you and I; it’s just easier for them to hide their identities. To assume every individual communicating online is a threat would be similar to thinking every Middle Eastern person is a member of the Al Qaeda (yeah, I just went there.) Since social networking is such a new thing and we haven’t completely grasped the concept yet, we’re scared to venture into a world beyond what is physical.
In class last week, I brought my best
boyfriend, John who was visiting from San Antonio,TX. I met John on Tumblr about 9 months ago. I found it funny that in one of my classes, I told my friend that I met him online and she said something along the lines of “Wow, he doesn’t look like one of those internet dwellers. He looks normal!” ….um…he IS a normal guy just like you are when you’re surfing online. At first I only knew him as one of my followers who commented on the things I posted. I liked the arguments he made on my posts, so I messaged him to add me on skype to chat. I was always cautious about who I chose to give my skype to (since some of the followers could be a bit… inhuman.) Even as a precaution I only gave him the skype that was of my persona and not of my irl self (only text chat). Within a month, we were already best buds after we were certain that neither of us gave off a stalker vibe. A few months later, we felt comfortable enough to tell each other who we really were. Gotta say, it’d been the best 9 months of my life, and I hadn’t even physically met him until now.
Success stories like these happen every day online, but they’re not spotlighted as much as the predator stories. Of course there is still a reason to keep your guard up when you’re joining that MMORPG server because it is COMPLETELY true that not everyone online is who they seem to be. One just has to slowly test out the waters before they go diving in. Once they discover that the person is harmless and they DO dive in, they may end up with one of the best things that’s ever happened to them, not only a new internet friend, but a person who has enough similar interests to theirs to be compatible. This 167,779 note Tumblr post takes the words right out of my mouth (minus the vulgarity.)
(**NOTE: A huge drawback in situations like these is that having such great friends online may end up making you shy away from the individuals you see irl. So yeah, don’t forget to leave your room every so often so you don’t look like Golum when you finally emerge.)