Neither of Us Was a Catfish!

I invited someone I only knew from the internet to meet me for lunch. Members of both of our families voiced concerns about us being "catfished."  It was a term I was unfamiliar with - but not its meaning.

For years, I have preached to my children the dangers associated with the Internet. I have told them time and time again that all is not always as it seems on Facebook. I have taught them not to divulge personal information and to trust no one. Apparently, some of this sunk in, and the sanity and safety of my plan was being questioned. The person I was planning to meet was getting similar warnings from her family, based on the guidance she had always provided as well.  We had never met, other than through the Internet and a few texts - yet neither one of us was worried about our plan.

  • According to the Urban Dictionary, a "catfish" is "someone who pretends to be someone they're not using Facebook or other social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances." 

So why then, had this person and I exchanged cell numbers and made plans to meet for lunch, while I was in Washington this past weekend?  How did we know it was safe? 
The person who had agreed to meet me was a blogger.  We started our blogs about the same time, and began reading each other's blogs almost immediately.  Our online friendship grew out of common interests and supportive comments.  In the past few weeks I have learned that these types of friendships are not uncommon.  The blogging community is generally a friendly and supportive place.  Bloggers learn a lot about each other through their blogs. It is a community where successes are celebrated and tragedies are sincerely grieved. Tips for making a blog better are freely shared.  Before long, the bloggers you frequently interact with do become on-line friends.  Of course, there is always the risk that in-person they may not be how they seem. What a disappointment that would be.
Having seen multiple photos of the person I was going to meet (posted on her blog) offered a level of security. So did meeting in a public place.  Should she have looked different than her pictures, I would have just walked away.  But she was exactly as expected.  I even recognized her family, who were with her when we met ... just making sure I was really who I had said I was!  These cautions were all wise. There have been too many situations where these types of meetings have ended badly.
I can tell you now that Lana, from "Two Teens and Their Mama" writes in the same voice that she speaks.  She does have a wonderful sense of humor and lots of good stories to tell.  She is exactly as she appears on her blog. And just as nice. More seasoned bloggers would probably have remembered to take a photo together, but we were much too busy talking.  Next time!
Despite this positive experience, I still think one can never be too cautious about on-line relationships.  
And I don't take back any of the warnings I have ever given to my kids!
What are your thoughts and experiences about meeting someone you only know through the Internet?


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