An old internet friend of mine, Matt recently got back in touch with me. Those of you who read this blog closely enough will have noticed that he commented on a few recent posts and we started talking again on MSN. This reignited friendship didn’t last and it was due to a number of reasons.
First of all, he confessed to having lied about a few “facts” about himself, when we initially began chatting. When this was revealed to me, I thought “Ok, fair enough, inside he’s still the same guy I chatted to”. However, the conversation moved onto rocky ground and despite me drumming in the fact that I’m in a pretty serious relationship, I’m afraid he left me no choice but to click the Block button followed by the Delete button. I rarely use them but in some cases, there’s nothing else you can do.
I’d also begun questioning what else he’d lied about and sure, I’d seen him on webcam, so I knew he wasn’t an old, fat, balding man with no life but still, it planted doubts in my mind that what he’d told me was 100% true. I can only thank my lucky stars that I’m no longer a naive, lonely 15 year old.
I’ve been speaking to people online for the large part of my teenage life and although, I’m aware of the dangers of internet strangers, of course, I never seem to have had an awful lot of trouble. Well, this must mean I’m lucky, you might think? I don’t know about lucky. I’d say more wary.
Sure, I’ve met people from online before. My first boyfriend Karl, I met on the internet. He turned out to be safe. Richard, although I started talking to him online, I knew he was who he said he was because of the connections we had in the real world. Then there was Dan, of course. The best “Hey, thanks for the add, how are you?” message I ever sent. On all three occasions, I was a bag of nerves at the first meeting. Two of them, of course, I wasn’t even sure the person I expected would turn up but all three times, the right person arrived.
I’m not saying that situations where young girls are seriously hurt or killed by internet paedophiles and fakes aren’t as common as they’re made out to be. They are incredibly common but I’d say it’s because of the naivety of the girls involved. I’ve spoken to hundreds of people online before but I don’t meet up with just anyone. I don’t meet up with anyone until I have enough proof they’re who they say they are. Being careful is the key and I think that’s what kids need to be told, not “Don’t meet up with anyone from online ever”. They just need to do the right research and be extremely careful.
Yes, every time you meet up with an online friend is a risk but if I hadn’t taken that risk, I wouldn’t have met Dan and there’s no way I’d be as happy as I am now.