Featured Image: Gunn and Swain
Article By: Melina Brum
It’s safe to say that we live in a society consumed by technology. There’s no doubt that technological advancements have had a positive impact on the world as we know it, but it’s also fair to say that there’s usually something bad lurking in the shadows of something good. With infinite access to virtual entities, trouble is inevitable. Most of us jumped into cyberspace without an instruction manual or some sort of cyber-guru and we haven’t had the fundamental training that we need in order to conquer danger in this modern battlefield, but it’s important to approach this new world with caution and a sense of understanding.
One side effect of this influx in technology is online dating. People now have the ability to find their “perfect match” using algorithmic search engine methods. This seemingly brilliant innovation makes it easy to trust and develop connections with people who are actually strangers. However, social exchanges through a screen can be deceiving if trust is built on a fabricated interaction. The effects of this societal progression can misdirect people into believing that things are more tangible than they really are. We stumble upon someone who seems to fit our ideal image and we don’t take the possible hazards into consideration.
Online dating can be fun and exciting, but it’s important to prepare yourself for different people with different intentions—good and bad. You shouldn’t shelter yourself, but it’s important to be aware of your surroundings both on- and offline. Here are some safety measures you can take while participating in online dating:
1. Give Yourself a Quick Google Search
If you Google yourself and private information appear, you might want to look into monitoring that. Search engines are powerful—one quick click and someone could gain access to a plethora of information in seconds. It’s important to be aware of how much of yourself is available on the big wide Web.
2. Give THEM a Quick Google Search
Just like you should search yourself up, you should also do the same for those you’re talking to online. A harmless background check never hurt anyone. Haven’t you heard, it’s better to be safe than sorry?
3. Don’t Give Away Too Much
It’s safer to keep your profile minimal and the same goes for the information you choose to share. It’s probably best to keep your full name, address, and employment information on the low. Make sure you reveal your phone number only when you’re more comfortable… Trust your gut. You don’t need to share anything super personal on a first date or especially while conversing online. You don’t want a stranger showing up to your house or workplace and you never know if you’ve got a stalker on your hands.
4. Refrain From Sharing An Overload of Photos
You don’t want strangers having access to all of your angles! Save them for later. Not to mention, a picture can lead to access to personal information that you weren’t even aware of. There’s technology that can scan a photo, which then enables access to a bunch of facts about it (i.e., identity and location).
5. Disable Your In-App Locations
If you have your location on for Snapchat filters or the famous Snap Map, it might be easy to forget to turn them off. You do NOT want a stranger tracking your every move. Pretty self-explanatory if you ask me.
6. Schedule Meet-Ups In Public Places
Make sure you are surrounded by just enough people. Never agree to private first dates, especially if you’ve never met the person. Don’t go anywhere too close to your house, but if you do then I suggest keeping comments like, “This is around the corner from my house!” to yourself. Besides if they’re really the one for you, you’ll have plenty of time to chill alone at home.
7. Don’t Overconsume
Don’t drink more than you can handle. Try to stay in control of your body and mind to avoid any sort of trouble. If you over drink, they might do the same, but you don’t know how they get when they’re drunk. Also, you don’t want to make a fool out of yourself on the first date.
8. Let Someone Close to You Know Where You Are
Fill your family and/or friends in on the details of your date night. Even if it’s a really embarrassing date, just let your loved ones know where they can find you just in case things don’t go as planned. Leave a detail-oriented plan of where you’re going and how long you might be. Tell them to check up on you every so often, but don’t let it disrupt your date if you feel okay. To be even more cautious maybe arrange a safety word that you’d use in case of emergency.
9. Carry Some Sort of Self-Defense Accessory
I’m not suggesting that you carry a gun or a knife, but be prepared for any possible situation. Pepper spray is a popular choice amongst women when it comes to self-defense tactics. If you have a black belt in karate, I’d say you’re well equipped. Having the help of some form of personal safety is necessary when you’re dealing with strangers. Plus, it’ll help you feel more relaxed knowing you have a well thought out plan.
10. Don’t Hesitate to Say “NO”
If you don’t feel comfortable with someone else’s words, actions, or suggestions, then voice your feelings. You don’t have to feel scared to disagree or simply say, “No.” It’s not rude. If you’re offending someone by protecting your comfort, then they can feel free to walk away. Stay true to yourself and listen to your instincts.
Nerves sometimes get in the way of our thinking pattern, so try your best to focus on making smart choices. If you’ve ever been in an uncomfortable online dating situation and are okay with sharing, leave a comment down below to help out others!
What has been your experience with online dating? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!