By KATIE STEWART
Online dating is a dangerous game that few people should risk playing.
More than 40 million U.S. residents have tried online dating. That’s a lot of strangers communicating with one another.
Do these people know the potential dangers? Probably not.
When you connect online, you do not know who is on the other side of the monitor. The person could be falsifying gender, age or appearance. He or she might even be a complete psychopath.
These issues are compounded when people use the Internet to search for a romantic connection.
The 2010 movie “Catfish” tells the story of Nev Schulman, who was in an online relationship with someone he thought was a perfect girl named Megan. Schulman communicated with Megan through Facebook, text messages and phone calls.
When Schulman traveled to her home town, he found that Megan was actually a married, middle-aged woman named Angela. She fabricated the whole story.
Another example is the “Craigslist Killer,” a movie about a man accused of killing victims he met after placing online ads.
Linda Kelly, a Greater Baltimore Medical Center nurse who heads the hospital’s Sexual Assault Forensic Examination program, has written about the dangers of online dating.
“There used to be more safety nets for young people as they were beginning their social lives and entering into relationships,” Kelly wrote. “Now, with electronic media and social media, those safety nets don’t exist anymore.”
Social media can be a dangerous form of communication. People use it as a way to literally play with people. Liars and psychopaths are master manipulators who tell you what you want to hear.
Some modern relationships begin without face-to-face communication. Something isn’t right if the other party isn’t willing to meet in person, or at least talk via a webcam service such as Skype.
Although social media is a big part of everyday life, people must be cautious. We shouldn’t be too trusting, and must restrict how much we tell strangers about ourselves.
Failing to do so can bring consequences far more serious than losing at Monopoly.
Stewart is a journalism major who aspires to someday work at Rolling Stone Magazine and Vanity Fair.