Internet is a broad network that allows us to connect to new people in a matter of a few seconds. It provides us with an opportunity to broaden our horizons and make friends with people of totally different cultures, making the whole world more unified and aware. Social media has taken over the world by storm. From Instagram to Tinder, we spend most of our time online. This has also created a culture of interaction between total strangers whom you have never met in real life. This culture also raises the question; Are the people you’ve met online trustworthy or not?
Online interactions have become a part of our daily lives, especially during this period of coronavirus where everything is managed online. People are of the view that this online communication can be dangerous, especially when you have never met the person you are beginning to trust. Shows like MTV Catfish has brought to attention how easy it is to create a false identity and talk to someone online. Not only this, it has created awareness about child predators as well as fake business which try to lure you into their trap. This has fuelled distrust for online communication.
When you are unaware of someone’s life, they can mould the conversation into exactly what they wish. People can lie about their physical appearance, their job, where they live and sometimes their entire personality can turn out to be a hoax. This is seen mostly in dating sites where people wish to find a partner and therefore, mould themselves into the category of boyfriend/girlfriend material. This makes us doubt every person we meet online because trusting someone and putting yourself in a dangerous situation is never a good idea. Most deceptions that we face online are not even based on false identities, they are based on these lies which people use as a tool to show themselves as a popular or ideal person, exaggerating certain situations to portray themselves in the best light. Research has also shown that people are more likely to lie on dating apps and are mostly honest on social media. These lies usually include lying about weight, which is commonly seen in the case of women and lying about height which is more prevalent in males. People who are on online sites and wish to continue their relationship in real life are less likely to lie about their personality.
Social media puts us in a precarious situation where we do not know if a person is trustworthy or not. In many cases, people tend to trust the wrong person and are victims of harassment, blackmailing, abductions and fraud. Yet, we cannot surely say that every person you meet online will be a fraud or a cheat. There are many situations in which people have created strong bonds with unknown strangers they met online. The fact that you do not know these people is a bonus for many because it gives them a clean slate from past rumours or issues that haunt them. Talking to someone online can provide them with a confidence boost. Online conversations are easier and hence, there is always a chance where friendship can blossom between two strangers. Many small businesses function through their social media handles. Trusting blindly is idiocy but you can always find out if the business is legit. There are a lot of ways in which one can analyse someone you have met online. Here are a few red flags which should make you run for the hills:
1) The person you met online asks you where you live without ever meeting you. This is not a sure sign but people have had trouble answering this question due to safety concerns.
2) They ask you for money or monetary help of some kind. A lot of people online try to benefit from people who trust easily by asking them for money and saying they will pay it back later.
3) Tries to know everything about you while revealing less about themselves. This is undoubtedly a red flag as the person can be catfishing you.
4) Has mostly bots on their followings. You can stalk someone before trusting them and check if their followers are bots which can be purchased through many apps.
5) Has shared the majority of their posts on the same day. This is a sign that the person has created a fake account and has tried to make it seem real.
6) If the person has a very gorgeous display picture in which their face is not visible and their posts are filled with similar images of their back, body and other features except the face. People who are trying to catfish and are quite good at it will do everything to make it seem like a real account. But you can always check out their posts and evaluate their identity as their feed usually consists of weird posts which make no sense or which seems like they are trying too hard.
7) Tries to back out from video calls, real talks and changes topic very frequently. This is a sign that the person is not interested in a real friendship. They make compliments every time they do not want to answer a question and try to back out from sharing not so personal details.