The reason the media makes such a big deal out of this sort of thing happening is because of how infrequently it actually happens (despite what a lot of people would have you believe)
I have met a LOT of people through the internet, probably over 50, & I've never had a problem.
Yes, the internet is an easy place for psychos to find victims, because they can put up an online persona, but as long as you exercise common sense, it's not hard to avoid them (& honestly, if it was as prolific as people would have you believe, I'd be dead 10 times over, because when I was younger, I was ALWAYS meeting people in non-public places, after only talking to them for a short amount of time)
also, you're no safer metting people IRL than you are meeting them online. One of my ex boyfriends ended up killing his mother. I met him IRL through a friend. 2 of my other exes are now sex offenders, & they were both also IRL-only
Edited at 2013-02-12 05:57 pm (UTC)
Well, of course, this is a worst case example here. At the lighter end of things, people could just turn out to be a disappointment in some way. Or, they might surprise you and be even better than you expected.
The thing is that the internet reflects fantasy, not reality. It shows best what we want to be, rather than what we actually are.
Or worse, we may latch on to somebody online and impress on them our own fantasies of what we want them to be, and then feel cheated when they can't live up to it. Which is pretty much what happened to me on both sides of the relationship.
I'm all into fantasy, but there is a line of practicality I've learned not to cross, which I think a lot of my younger friends don't get. They seem to regard the internet like a catalog they can look at and tell exactly what they're buying. But that is not the case.
And even if one is lucky and doesn't end up getting burned from meeting people on the internet, that's no indication that it's a safe thing to do that one should take for granted.
It's still an extremely dangerous thing to do. Which is not to say that we should never venture to take some risks. But, as with any risky venture, proper care and precautions should be observed.
That's first impressions in a nutshell though - you meet someone in a bar, or at the mall, or museum, or wherever people meet, & they're going to be on their best behaviour. You can never tell what someone is really like until you spend time with them, it doesn't matter how you meet them.
as far as people getting disappointed with what they find out, they'll learn on their own. It's not something they can understand until they experience it
but it's not extremely dangerous. It's not even slightly dangerous - the media wants you to think it is, but it really isn't any more dangerous than meeting people IRL. To say meeting people that you've talked to online is extremely dangerous because of a few news articles based on worst-case-scenarios is like saying riding in a plane is extremely dangerous, because it might crash. Or eating in a restaurant is extremely dangerous because you might get food poisoning. It's propeganda.
Also, it's never a good idea to tell someone not to do something because of how dangerous you perceive it to be - my mom used to be convinced that the internet was full of serial killers. Which prompted me to be crazy reckless when I was young, just to prove her wrong.
While it is always a good rule of thumb to exercise caution in your meeting-Online-people-IRL endeavours, this sort of thing is extremely rare in comparison to the amount of people who do the same and have things go off without a hitch.
I have met a few internet-people IRL and none of them have been bad. Some have been extremely underwhelming or not how I imagined. Even so, at the same time, my best friend in the entire world is someone I met online more than a decade ago.
This sort of thing can arise from any scenario. You can have this happen from somebody you met casually in a bar, a cafe, from someone who you used to work with or somebody you got in contact with through newspaper personal ads. It is not an internet-only problem, not is it common by any means. Common sense should always prevail, no matter how things start.
when meeting people for the first time, it is imperative that it be someplace very public and open, like a shopping mall.
This is excellent advice. Even though the online friends I've met in person have all been people I've known a long time (and who other people have already met in person) I still wouldn't really have wanted to meet up in a private house. A selection of places I have met people: railway station, museum, public library, shopping centre.
This is why I typically take things slow, really slow when it comes to relationships. I can take things faster with my character online because there isn't any consequence for having cyber sex as there is real sex. You can meet some creeps online but there is a screen of protection, so meeting on the internet can be in some cases safer.
If one takes their time they can find out things about the person and come to a more logical decision. There are some that throw themselves into relationships really quickly, I tend to try and see if I like what's on the inside first, and while many try to hide that, I am typically one who can see through charades over time.
But by the by, seeings as you live in Baltimore, there is a new furry convention in the area on the first weekend of April (Fur'the More). You're probably not one to socialize much, but I thought I'd make you aware in case you weren't already.
Believe it or not, I'd not heard a thing about a covention in Baltimore. Thanks for letting me know. I'll investigate and see if I want to attend.
Yikes. I am very sorry to hear that this happened; please take care and be careful.