The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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The many dangers of online dating

We’ve all been there: it’s late at night, you’re bored and you are surfing through the pages of strangers on MySpace or Facebook. Suddenly you get a message from one of these said strangers which reads like a cheesy and sleazy pick-up line you’d hear in a dark, sweaty local bar. Against better judgment you message them back because they’re really attractive, or at least their “default” picture is. The picture is one of those black and white types, a cropped shot, taken from an odd angle which de-emphasizes any possible flaw this mystery suitor may have. Little are you aware, however, that the total babe you think you’re talking to has just attacked you with a serious case of false advertising.

False advertising, for those who aren’t aware, is a serious crime. Imagine a girl is walking down the street and you can only see her from behind; you think because of her gorgeous hair and great clothes that she’s equally as appealing from the front. You’d be wrong. False advertising attacks, the girl turns around and she is at least thirty years older than you and shows it. Such is the case with your new “friend” online. Great picture – false advertising.
MySpace and Facebook are breeding grounds for the perfectly selected “default” picture. While many people will take hours and hours of precious time to choose a photo which portrays them at their personal best, many others alter their photos or even use a picture that isn’t them. I can’t tell you how hard I laughed when I saw a girl using a picture from a Victoria’s Secret swimsuit catalogue as her main picture. Clearly Captain Delusional thought she resembled Alessandra Ambrosia, but as an unbiased observer, she did not. Those who might have come across her page and been ignorant to the fact that this wasn’t the girl in the photo were victims of false advertising.

The trouble here lies in that some of us begin relationships with people we meet online. Not to say we become boyfriend and girlfriend, but rather we message them back, begin to Instant Message them, then a phone call here and there, which ultimately will lead to meeting in person. This is not a problem for many people, who have pictures of themselves, are honest and have the best intentions with their new friend. However, there is a lot of false advertising and the man or woman we think we’re about to meet turns out to be someone completely different.

It is possible that the photo was just a better version of the person and we find this out through the awkward meeting, and the talking eventually fizzles out.

Unfortunately all too often nightmares come true and we or someone we know will find ourselves in a situation we can’t get out of. It’d be great if life was a fairytale and we lived in an ideal world where no one lied, but when looking for friendship and love on the Internet, you are not in a fairytale. When putting yourself out on the pages of MySpace and even Facebook, since it’s opened its gates to the public, you are letting strangers into your home. When you begin personal relationships with these strangers you could potentially be putting yourself in danger.

Responding to a message seems harmless enough but, more will come and when you are standing face to face with a seriously disturbed person, there’s nothing you can do. These Internet “friendship” sites are the playgrounds for many of the world’s perverts and pedophiles. That babe in the photo you think you’re talking to online, could actually be predator pretending to be someone you’d be interested just in order to lure you out and into their territory. I’ve heard the horror stories as I’m sure we all have. The nice guy we talk to online and agree to meet up with later turns into a 40-year-old balding pervert with a gut, carrying the pale glow of his computer screen all over his face.

While false advertising seems like a laughing matter, especially when you know the girl pretending to be a swimsuit model, it has the potential to put us in the most dangerous situations, women especially.

If you haven’t already, make your pages online private. It’s one thing if your friends know where you live and what you’re doing, but I don’t think any of us want the sexual predator a few blocks down who stares at our pictures all night having any clue of where to find us, at anytime. When you get a random friend request, maybe it does make your heart flutter a little, but if you have no clue where you met this person, it’s probably best to wait until you do before you accept.

Don’t be fooled by false advertising. You could potentially put yourself at risk by going on a date with someone who has serious problems – just because you thought he looked like Brad Pitt.

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