Facebook romance - Think before committing
They have been talking on Facebook for what seems like ages. They have shared their deepest secrets and the more they communicate, the more they realise that they have so much in common. Finally, they have come to the conclusion that they have something special and took it beyond cyberspace where the chemistry continued, evolving into an engagement.
The above scenario is true, and it is also true that more and more persons are finding their soulmates through social media and other online platforms.
Pastor Joan Gumbs of How Ya Livin' Now checked in with Family and Religion in a two-part series exploring Facebook and its impact on relationships.
BE AWARE OF THE RISKS
While acknowledging that more and more persons are 'dating' online, she cautioned that they should be aware of the risks that is involved, such as talking to someone that is not 'real'.
"Many persons post stock photos on their profile page, and pretend to be who they are not. Some are 6' 3'' with a six-pack abs online, but in reality, they are 5' 5" weighing 220 pounds. Some are 55 years old, but their profile states 25 years. The mind is a terrible thing to waste. We can visualise and fantasise with minimal information," she said.
To combat this, Gumbs advised that 'daters' should utilise the video chat experience so at least they will know who they are talking to.
"Have the person move from room to room while speaking, so you can see the layout of the surroundings. Listen to the background noise. Take notice of pictures or other wall hangings. Pay attention to the person's body language. Actions do speak louder than words," are the words of warning given.
For some of the fortunate ones, Gumbs said, online dating can be rewarding, but for others it can be dangerous.
"Things to consider on this platform include the fact that you could be dating a serial killer or a rapist, and he could also be a pervert," she said, adding that no one wants to be saddled with someone like that.
Highlighting a trend now taking over Facebook called 'love bombing' where a narcissistic person dates someone and lavishes him/her with gifts and affection. Gumbs warns that it could eventually lead to the person becoming angry and controlling.
"Because you spend most time on FB rather than face-to-face, you don't see the signs. By the time you do, it's too late as you're totally infatuated with this person," she said.
Referring to the many tools now at cyber users' controls, Gumbs said that they can eliminate some of the risk with sites offering background checks.
"You can find out anything you want about a person by doing a simple background check. In addition to background checks, Google's algorithms are so fine-tuned that you can ask just about any question about anything and get millions of search results. You can track the digital footprint of the person to put together your own profile of the person you are dating," said Gumbs.
She added that persons can do their own detective work on Facebook itself by looking at their friend list and checking out some of the interactions to see if they reveal anything.
"Visit their pages to see how they interact and engage with others on Facebook. See what they like and comment on. Does he/she seem close to the family? Are there children involved? Babymothers? Babyfathers? What social issues bother them? You would be surprised how much the answers to these questions can help you establish a profile of the person you are dating. You can then look at it objectively to see if this is the person with whom you wish to spend the rest of your life," she said.