While eating our tea and watching Come Dine With Me, a particular vice that we’ve grown accustomed to in our house (Don’t judge!), an advert for an ‘on-line’ dating service came on the telly. It was a very good one, they’d picked pleasant looking actors to play the parts of the singletons want to become a couple.
It prompted a short discussion, it had to be short after all we were on a commercial break. My daughter mentioned that several people she knew had all met via the internet and were now in relationships. I found this very interesting, especially since most of the people that she was referring to were in their early twenties.
I suddenly realised that these young people would have had the same access to the internet that my daughter had. They were probably about the same age when they started getting access to computers. It made me pause for thought.
Fourteen years ago, we got our first computer and we received a modem (dial up) for our initial ‘browsing’ on the web. In those days ‘chat rooms‘ were king. Every where you went had a chat room. Not only that but apart from the public chat rooms you could carry on a more in-depth conversation in a private version of the public room.
Chat rooms are still here, of course, but they are ‘supposedly’ monitored better.
Horror stories abounded. A thirteen year old girl was groomed by a thirty year old sailor. A twelve year old boy found that ‘his mate’ on-line was a fifty-four year old paedophile. Parents were understandably concerned and not a little paranoid.
We were lucky, my daughter was not a stupid child and the one time she felt alarms firing off in her head, she logged off immediately.
We had friends who were even luckier. Their daughter went and actually met the faceless person she had been interacting with via the net. I say luckier because the guy she met turned out to be who he said he was, another teenage boy her age and not Hannibal Lecter.
Other parents and their children were not so lucky.
Some of the children still haven’t been found.
Police and community groups scattered literature all over the place warning of the danger that the internet posed and that chat rooms were the devil’s playground.
Now just a short time later, everyone it seems who is single is using the internet to meet other singles. I don’t know but I should imagine that this whole dating over the net thing is worth millions if not billions of dollars/pounds/euros or currency of your choice or country.
I had a sudden thought. Are internet dating sites the new blind date for the single folks searching for love, companionship, or a quick fumble in the dark? It certainly looks like it. And it appears to be safer than its predecessor the ‘real blind date.’ But I don’t trust it.
Why? Well I remember the horror stories too well. Hell, I related them to my wide-eyed daughter repeatedly. I didn’t want her to wind up a statistic in a ditch somewhere. Yes, I know we have Skype and windows messenger, yadda, yadda. But the couples I know who initiated their relationship through the computer never used any of the chat vehicles where you can actually see who you are talking to.
Is it all luck? Are the ‘dating Gods’ giving the single folks a break or are we becoming more truthful. Have the predators of the web moved on to easier targets? Or are they still out there and interested only in the very young fish they want to catch. It still scares me a little. The idea of meeting a stranger who you’ve only ‘spoken’ to on-line.
I’m not old-fashioned enough that I don’t like computers or the world-wide-web, I love ’em. I am computer literate enough to get my self in trouble.
No I just don’t like anything that just a few short years ago was considered dangerous. Despite the hazards that we all face when getting to know someone new, I would still rather do it the old -fashioned way.
Face to face and in person.
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