I Met Hannibal Lecter on an Online Dating Site!
If this title caught your attention, then you might be someone who wants evidence of the worst in people, so that you can live in fear.
After reading WritingLover 's, The Dangers of Online Dating , and her warning to all who use online dating sites, I might think that I have been living on borrowed time.
No, I am not a serial online dater (or killer), but I have been on the Internet since 1997. As an active member of the online world, I have been active on chat websites, built online friendships, often meeting face-to-face, and have even met some from dating websites. I know others who have dated people that they met in chat rooms. Many I know have been married and have families having met through online sites of all kinds.
The argument and my rebuttal
WritingLover stated: "Unlike dating in the real world you can never be sure that the person you are talking to online is who they say they are in real life, for all you know they could be lying to you about everything they tell you. For example have you seen the television show Catfish?"
This argument is weak, as liars are everywhere--online or real time. People can misrepresent themselves all of the time; people on online dating sites do not hold exclusive rights to this behavior.
Sensationalism at its finest
We live in a world where media is accessible to us all. Many get their news and ideas about the world around them solely from sites or cable television shows, which loosely throw around the phrase, "reality TV."
This is journalistic (media) sensationalism--using shock value or exciting stories or language, at the expense of accuracy. It is used provocatively to get the public to watch or read. (Yes, I used this tactic in my title. If you are reading, then it worked.)
So, the danger of online dating seems to get more air-time than the success rates. And some people will then believe the anecdotal evidence from one or two sources to make their decisions about the world around them.
Online and meeting face-to-face
Personally, I have been in the online world chatting, building friendships with many people (and sometimes dating) for nearly two decades. I have met people in Canada, Sweden, Netherlands, England and Scotland (internationally, for me) and many of the states here in the US.
These friends have picked me up from the airports, introduced me to their families, and invited me to stay as a guest in their homes. Some people have traveled to visit me (first-time meeting) and I have done the same for them. Never in these 18 years, have I ever had any person online rob me, try to murder me, or any commit any other heinous act against me.
Have I been lied to by some of them? Yes. Just as "real" friends and family have lied to me. Have some of them had qualities or habits that I do not like in the people with whom I wish to associate? Of course, but is that different than any other relationship we begin to develop?
Use caution (not fear) in all situations
WritingLover makes a good point that it is important to ensure one's safety when using online dating sites by meeting in public places and telling a friend or family member where you will be. I might suggest that you also share with that trusted person a name, contact information, and other information you know about the date, if you feel it necessary to go to that extent.
Though some people on dating sites may try to fool you, there are people that you can meet anywhere who will do the same, whether you meet at school, in a grocery store, the library, or in church. Human beings are capable of behaving badly, just as they can be wonderful people, no matter where you might meet them, or for what purpose.
Do not be fooled by your own gullibility
Beware! Hannibal Lecter is out of jail! I have heard that he is lurking around here on Persona Paper under a pen name.
Had I continued to write this article in this fashion after the initial "hook" with my title, there are some who might have believed it, or certainly entertained the idea. Others might have started to share this with others and convinced them to be fearful. Some might believe that Dr. Lecter is still alive. There are even others who might think that Hannibal Lecter is a real person.
We must also be aware that we can be fooled into believing the worst about people and fearing the world around us, if we limit ourselves to gathering information to one or two sources, or make our decisions based solely on the experiences, or (worst, yet) the capable story-telling skills, of a select few.
© 2015 Coral Levang
Image Credit » http://pixabay.com/en/people-knife-stabbing-stab-kill-316168/ by PublicDomainPictures