I have been meeting people online since 2001. Some I have met in person over the course of time, others I hope to meet at some point. But, in the last week I have been forced to think about the question "Who is on the other side of the computer?"
Back when I was a kid, the only friends you had were those you met in the neighborhood, at school, on vacations. But, now, life is a whole new ball game. The internet makes it possible to meet people from every end of the earth. These are people you have never met and may very well never meet. But, you decide how much information to trust these people with. Your name, phone number, maybe even mailing address to get packages and letters and cards. Maybe information about your children, pictures, and so on. How do you know who to trust and how much to trust them with? Are they psychopaths? Are they just normal everyday people looking for friendship? Will they betray you? Will they protect you with all they have? It's just an unknown and one I try not to take lightly.
I would be a liar if I were to say I don't doubt the people I meet online. At least I do in the beginning. I wonder what their motives are and what they do when someone sends in a picture to an email group. Do they say "Nice picture", then delete the email and move on. Or do they think "Nice picture", hit right click and save the picture to their computer? Is there someone out there who is using pictures of any of my kids as their own? It's a legit concern.
So, when a woman goes completely off on me accusing me of calling her fake behind her back, then what should I say? Now, mind you, I have been speaking to this person for several years and was completely talking about someone else when I pretty much said it to her face. So, why send me 5 emails in 2 days demanding to know if I was talking about her? If I were talking about you, you would know it! Finally she got all mad and blocked me off her facebook and email. All I can say is, her loss. She's done this not once but twice to me and I don't think I have enough fingers and toes to count how many others she has done this to, both online and in real life. I moved on from her but not from the doubts of how many other "unstable" people there are roaming around online.
Then when doubts are raised about someone else I used to talk to online, whether a year later or a day later, it bears some deep thought. I want to believe the good in the people who come to me and act all sweet. No one deserves to be betrayed or stabbed in the back. So, if answers are warranted for someone to feel safe, then why shouldn't they be entitled to them?
It's easy to let go of something when you have the answers you need. But, when you start to distrust people because of being betrayed, its a little harder to "just let go". In fact, for some, it's near impossible. I have always shared most of my life freely with blind faith. There are some aspects of my life that very few are privy too, but here on my blog, I have shared my kids pictures and lives with people, many are strangers. I just hope that the people on the other side of the computer have been true to me.