By Josie Salazar
Have you bitten the fishing line or net when it comes to online dating yet?
OK, so my first experience introduced to me to the slimy “caught-in-the-net, and half-starved dumbo shark” who’s extra curricular S&M activities left me with my mouth opened like a blowfish.
Thanks to our technological era, you can meet different people all over the world with just the click of a button. Seems easy, especially if you realize why so many are using the net to fish for a date.
Many say that they are to busy, or shy or the ‘fishing pool’ in their community is drying up. So they turn to ‘fishing on the net.’ Reasons do vary, but I believe after looking at thousands of profiles, that it’s being able to go incognito.
Many of the profiles I looked at lacked the sincereness that you might see in someone when meeting in person.
And it is that very simple reason that so many people fall prey to “sharks” on the net.
In the online dating school of fish, you need to be very careful. One guy I exchanged e-mails with for several weeks finally wanted to meet face to face. He said that he’d pay for plane ticket so that I would pay a ‘booty call.’
I thought it strange that a fish that I barley new would want me to risk the chasms of the deep for a ‘booty call.’
Or when I met “four guys for the price of one.” They were American soldiers stuck in Romania who were looking for some R&R with one lucky girl when they got back to the States. (Maybe the ’30 year old Virgin’ should join them instead?)
One fish wanted to know what my measurements were and what inner clothing I wore: lacy, satin, bikini style or thong.
He also wanted to know if I liked to go ‘commando’ (he must have been looking for Britney Spears).
The truth is that it does happen, more then you think. Match.com reported that out of the 50,000 people that use their site everyday, there are approximately 2,000 complaints sent in each day.
Only 4.5 percent are proven complaints that range from harassment, threats, explicit language to actual assaults when meeting in person.
However, Match.com said that they are working on insuring personal safety, yet they said that many people using their site do not follow the terms of conditions that you must agree to before setting up your profile.
Other sites like E Harmony, U.S. Military.com and Yahoo agree that users do not follow protocols that they have suggested in order to ensure your own safety.
When you’re on a dating site like PlentyFish.com, you would think that there is some kind of screening process for all the bad fish out there.
On most sites that do not require immediate registration and possible fee, you’ll find more weirdos and often much more explicit language, talk and photos.
And most often “fishes” on those sites are not truth full at all. (Like that professional photographer who offered his services)
In addition, you might not get the option to block someone if they harass you.
Some sites even include discrete background checks (small fee) of their members.
Out of all the dating sites I tried, I thought that E harmony and PerfectMatch were the best ones that had added protection for their members.
However, here are some tips courtesy of E Harmony to remember if you start “fishing on the net” no matter the site:
n Never give out personal info. Not even your last name!
n Do not e-mail others with your personal e-mail, use the sites e-mail system, report abuse immediately and never plan on meeting anyone without notifying someone.
n Tell a friend your plan, where and when you are to meet, and arrange for a fake emergency call so that you can be checked on.
n Tell a staff from where you are meeting what is going on so that they can be aware and be a witness to the situation.
n Try to find someone in your town to have this type of liaison; it will be easier for you to get the help you need if the fish on the hook turns out to be a shark. This goes for both men and women.
These simple steps will protect you when “fishing on the net” and if you plan to meet that “fish.” My experience with the dark waters of online dating are just mild examples of what can happen, be aware that incidents that are more serious can happen.
Since my “fishing” trip, I am now more aware, know how to protect myself, and understand the reasons why so many of my peers get ‘hooked’ into the dark waters of an online liaison.
(Josie Salazar is City Times’ news editor)