Be whoever you want to be…as long as it’s really you.

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The internet is fascinating, And scary. I love that you can shop without leaving your home (I did that last night) and I love that you can share things with people across the world in an instant. It’s awesome that people can even start and run businesses completely online without spending any money on advertisements.

The thing that scares me- and this is nothing new- is the relationships people create and continue online.  The fact that people meet online doesn’t scare me,  it’s the part where these people talk online for a one, two, or ten years before ever even meeting each other in person.

Yes, I’ve been watching the new show on MTV, Catfish. I haven’t seen the documentary, Catfish, that started this chain of shows, but the host of the tv show is also the main character in the documentary.  Basically, his story was that he met and really liked this girl he met online and when he finally decided to meet her, she turned out not to be blonde, skinny, and tan, like her profile picture on Facebook led him to believe, but rather she was brunette, overweight, and well, not what he expected.

With his lesson learned, he’s now traveling across the country to meet with other people going through similar situations and connect them with the other side of their “online relationships.”  I think I’ve caught most of the episodes so far, and I have yet to see an episode where the person on the other side really is who they say they are.

I watched two episodes tonight and the first one was similar to the host’s story.  This guy thought he was talking to this blonde barbie doll looking girl and the girl actually ending up being a dark-haired, glasses-wearing, overweight young woman with self-esteem issues.  She said she led him on to believe she was this other person for TWO years because she liked the feeling that guys actually were interested in her.  That makes me so sad to hear because ultimately, these guys that were “interested in her,” weren’t really interested in her… they liked the blonde, skinny girl in the photos.  Once the girl and the guy were connected, of course the guy was confused and a little upset, but they actually ended up being friends.

The next episode was about a black girl who had found this gorgeous, black modeling agent on Facebook and they’d been talking online for over two years.  Not on the phone, and never in person, although “he only lived 15 minutes away.”  Bizarre, right?  I think my problem with this is how naive these people are.  How can you think that’s okay to instant message someone for over two years and never see them?!  And it’s not even like these were just friendly conversations.  They got personal, told each other that they loved one another, and even changed their relationship statuses on Facebook to reflect that they were together.  At the end of this episode, we find out that the guy she had been talking to was another black girl, who had been pretending to be this guy for two years to GET REVENGE.  Well that definitely explaisns why they never met or talked on the phone.   This situation made me sad thinking about all the time they had both wasted.  The one girl thought she had really made a connection and was starting something long-term with this guy who didn’t exist, and the other one committed to spending how many hours a day to break someone’s heart.

I’m defintely a skeptic when it comes to most things in life, and that may be why this show blows my mind.  I just can’t wrap my mind around the time and passion these people put into relationships that they can’t even confirm is with a real person.  Adam and I started our relationship texting and moved onto talking on the phone about a month later.  However, I had found out about him through a friend and had seen many pictures online… I knew what I was getting myself into 🙂

Online dating may be a good thing, but I think the talking on the phone/video chatting needs to happen sooner.  Do it in stages if that’s easiest: talking online, text messaging, phone calls, video messaging and finally meeting in person.  That way you know you’re not going to meet up with your fantasy guy and have it be a 70-year-old grandfather with three teeth (unless of course that is your fantasy man :)).

Moral of the story?  Be who you are. Don’t bully people online because you think you’re tougher than you really are, and don’t try to get someone to like you by pretending you’re someone else.  In the end, you and the person on the other side, will probably just end up more hurt than you were to begin with.  If people don’t like you for who you are, they’re not meant to be in your life.

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