On being real.  

motelagain 62M
17 posts
8/4/2005 3:48 pm

Last Read:
3/5/2006 9:27 pm

On being real.


The Internet is a funny place. It has as many uses as the imagination can conjure. It attracts all kinds of people for all kinds of different reasons. For those of us who use this miracle of technology to connect with other people, this is both good and bad news.

The good news is that we are likely to meet a wide variety of people here from virtually every walk of life; people with a broad range of life experiences, opinions, beliefs and knowledge. The potential for enrichment trough interpersonal relationships is incredible. I have known people whose "online friends" are their closest and dearest.

The bad news is that there are a lot of bad people out there, mixed in with the good. The worst of these are the ones who can appear good and who use this ability without regard for anyone but themselves. There are plenty of this type in the chat rooms, on the dating sites, or even on the "world's largest sex & swinger personals site." This is just a fact of Internet life.

There are plenty of sources that provide information on how to protect your identity, your bank accounts, your credit cards and even your physical safety. We have all heard the basics: don't give out identifying information to anyone you do not know; don't give out your Social Security number, driver's license number or the passords to your ATM and online accounts; keep your firewall up; don't give out your home address or telephone number; don't meet anyone in person unless it is in a public place; etc., etc. These are all important things to know and put into practice. They help keep us safe online.

The biggest problem, though, is how to be sure that the person you chat or correspond with online is being "real" with you. How do you know that friendly woman is not really a man? How do you know that "single" man is not really married with 6 kids at home? How do you know if someone is really building a friendship or other acceptable relationship, or whether he or she is setting you up to be prey? The simple truth is that, many times, there is no way to know until something goes wrong. This, too, is a fact of life on the Internet.

We could just throw our hands up in the air, say "f**k it," and leave this Internet chat/dating thing behind. I am sure that many people have. However, this is a little like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. We could be hypercautious, deny all chat invitations and refuse to open e-mails from folks not on a pre-selected "buddy list." Many folks on the Internet take this approach as well.

Personally, I am still interested in meeting new people who may not look at life in the same way as I do. I am still interested in somehow becoming personally enriched through interaction with diverse individuals out there in cyperspace. Sure, I am cautious with the basics; and I tend to look carefully at what people say and how they say it. At the same time, I do not wish to build my walls so high that no one can get in (and I cannot get out).

I guess my approach boils down to this: I try to be intelligent and take precautions; to carefully observe the people with whom I interact; and to be real myself. I will not necesarily tell you everything you want to know about me, but what I tell you will be real. That way, if you are also real, we might eventually become friends.

-John

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