We live in a world where a human connection can happen with just a swipe of a finger.
When it comes to online dating, the tragic events like those that happened to Mackenzie Lueck and Lauren McCluskey have made online dating app users wary. While most people are there for a quick connection or even to find love, some have malicious intentions.
“I would advise to always be cautions just because this is somebody you do not know. Back when I was younger, I went on a few blind dates, but that was a friend of a friend, so to some degree they could vouch for that person,” says Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Travis Williams.
If a person is feeling down, alone or seeking a quick human connection, all they have to do is install an app like Tinder, Grindr, Plenty of Fish, Match or a myriad other. Almost instantly, they can be talking to a person of interest that may help brighten their day or fulfill the need they are seeking.
But users should beware.
As much as we would like to believe the world is full of honest people, it is often not. Frequently the person on the other side of the screen may not match what they are portraying.
False profiles are created and used to make a person seem more attractive and interesting in order to engage more people. Their intentions may not always be what they say. This is known as “Catfishing.”
“There was one person that I went on a date with and they did not look anything like their profile,” says Tinder user and Salt Lake Community College student, Rosemary Cannon. “He was antisocial and rude. It was not in a shy way.”
A user can be located anywhere, and although some apps require you to have a Facebook account or other forms of verification, these accounts can also be fraudulent.
There are many quirks with the online verification process. Often you are told everything the person thinks you want to hear to get you to dispense more information about yourself. This can lead to identity theft, burglary, stalking, or in a worst-case scenario, bodily harm.
If you feel that you want to meet up with a person online, there are some steps you should take for basic safety.
Some things a person can do is drive separately and meet them a few times in a public place before deciding to be alone with them, tell a friend or family member what you are doing, and do not give out your address or any information until you are sure that they are the person they say they are.
Another suggestion is to ask serious questions.
If a person does not want to answer, you will be able to see a reaction in their body language. This should be a warning sign. Also, pay attention to awkwardness in conversations. Listen to what they are saying.
Protecting yourself is crucial. Self-defense skills, mace, contraception and an awareness of our surroundings are other things to pay attention to.