For the past two years, well meaning friends have told me that I should consider online dating sites. In the beginning, my reaction was red hot rage. After about a year it cooled to an icy silence. Recently, I've been able to nod politely with a tight smile on my face (all the while thinking to myself, "There. Is. No. Way.") Depending upon who you believe, 1 out of 5 (20%) to 1 out of 3 (33%) of relationships are now made online. I know people that have met and happily married people they met online, but I, personally, still cannot even imagine considering the idea. Anyway...
The other night I was watching a movie on Lifetime. My sister has spoiled that channel forever for me by revealing its secret. (Spoiler Alert.) If someone with greasy hair and/or missing teeth utters the words, "I am not/ain't ever going to let you go", it is not going to end well for someone. At one of its breaks, there was a commercial for a free trial RIGHT NOW! on a Christian dating website.
(Adult Children o' mine: stop reading right now.)
I typed in the website while continuing to watch a Lifetime Channel movie spun out of control by the stalker of the week. I just kept wondering how safe meeting strangers online could really be. The first picture that came up on the site was of a man who lived about two hours from my town. He had a made-up screen name, but his profile picture showed a hat that advertised a nationwide financial consulting business. I googled his hometown and the business and EUREKA! There was his real name, picture, and business address. I then googled his real name and city and his address showed up with a GoogleEarth picture of his home. I am absolutely sure he thought he was completely anonymous. (And if something happens to him and I am considered a "person of interest" in the crime because of my search, I need you all to vouch for me that I am relatively harmless and not even all that internet savvy.) That little story is about as terrifying as a Lifetime dating-gone-wrong movie. I would not even consider working with one of those websites if I even considered dating again.
That would have been the end of that, until I was on Facebook yesterday. Have you noticed the advertisements placed on the right hand side of your FB page? They are selected because of your age. Suffice it to say, the ads I am shown do not show flavored lip gloss or Justin Bieber (and what is with his hair, anyway?) That day, my "age-appropriate" links were to (you guessed it): an online dating website. Except it was called Senior People Meet. First off, let me assure you I am almost two decades from retirement. I am NOT a "senior". Next, the picture that was posted was someone I recognized (slightly) from high school. He had used his unusual last name as part of his username. I am sure he did not give permission to have it posted all over the country, but when you sign up for those sites they kind of own your image. (And an observation about that image: Being a football star in high school does not guarantee you will have hair at middle age. Be nice to everyone when you are younger, because it really will be your personality that will carry you along later in life.) I digress.
Let these be lessons to us all: Online information is rarely anonymous. Be nice to everyone you meet, because you are probably going to meet them again. And beware of Lifetime movies late at night.
You are welcome.