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Teenangels / Scrapbook / Articles / Mystery Date, Endangered Fate by Teenangel Lisa

Mystery Date, Endangered Fate by Teenangel Lisa

Everything You Never Wanted to Consider About Meeting People Online

Ever notice how incredibly good looking the people who chat online are? How everyone you meet on the Internet seems to be tall, thin, and muscular whereas most of the people walking down the street are shorter, fatter, and in less good shape? Strange, isn't it?

The Internet is a research tool, an shopping guide, and traveler's best friend. It is also a mask – the easiest disguise imaginable. It allows people the opportunity to pretend be someone else, temporarily, without the cost of a costume, make up, or plastic surgery. Luckily, Internet users, by and large, are aware of how easy it is to lie over the Internet – many have done it themselves.

But while no one is silly enough to think that the people who chat online just happen to look like models, many people still fall victim to Internet crimes and online harassment. The reason is that even the most experienced Internet users do not understand how dangerous it is, especially for teenagers, to meet people over the Internet.

But it is dangerous, and smart, rational people often duped over the Internet. Their vulnerability might be the result of carelessness, a lack of understanding of the nature of the Internet, or a belief that nothing terrible could happen to them. Chances most of these people will never suffer harm as a result of the lies they are told – that their “buddy” is 50 and not 25, a high school drop out and not a college student, 350, not 150 pounds – in fact, they very well might never know they were fooled at all. Unfortunately, other lies are more dangerous these superficial alterations – perhaps that the person is really looking through their window from across the street and does not live in Iowa , or maybe they are a sex offender and not a virgin, or perhaps that they are an acquaintance or even an ex boyfriend or girlfriend and are not a stranger.

People have been stalked, sexually assaulted, and murdered by people they met online who lied about their identities and then threatened and manipulated them using information they had learned through their conversations. The victims, most often, are smart suburban girls who were raised in good families. They did not ‘ask for it', they simply did not understand how dangerous meeting people online can be.

When meeting people online (if you must) there are a few rules everyone should follow. First and foremost, be suspicious. It is well advised to doubt everything a stranger tells you online from his identity to his intentions. Chatting online is one instance where it's best to assume the worst. Equally important, if you do talk online, never give out any information that makes you traceable – your phone number, address, home town, school name, and after-school job should never be mentioned. It is well advised to have no personal contact with someone you meet over the Internet under any circumstances, as you are automatically putting yourself in danger. However, if you feel absolutely compelled to do so, take all possible precautions. Meet in daylight. Take not one, but a group of friends with you. Meet in a public place with lots of people around. If the person is not exactly what he or she described him or herself to be, leave immediately and break off contact, as they were likely lying about more than just their appearance.

Being in high school makes it difficult to meet new people. It is easy to feel trapped by the size or location of your school, and by your image and place within its social structure. The Internet seems like the easiest option to branch out and if you're only seeking is a conversation, it might serve the purpose well. The Internet is not, however, a place to meet your next romantic partner or close friend. Though you can use it in your pajamas from the safety of your own home, it is a public environment and you should act accordingly. Do not give out information online, or feel free to discuss topics that you wouldn't feel comfortable speaking about with a total stranger, or with your teacher, parent, or crossing guard – because that's exactly who you might, unwittingly, be talking to.

Teenangel Lisa

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