I remember being about eight years old when all of the “stranger danger” about the internet started becoming a huge thing. Of course, It had been around for a while, probably before I was even born, but the early 2000’s is when it became a huge deal, at least to me.
As a child, a young child, my family didn’t have internet. We had a computer for playing games, you know, those jump start educational games used by parents to trick their kids into learning. We had those, and they were fun, but we didn’t have internet.
Internet was starting to become a mainstream thing during my early childhood, but still a lot of homes didn’t have it. In my mind, the internet was for rich families. Now, my family was doing just fine, we were living in poverty, but sitting comfortably in the middle class. Anyway, I saw internet as for those who had big houses in wealthy neighborhoods with big yards. Not for us.
So anyway, when the internet became more popular, and the technology improved, my family finally broke down and got dial-up internet. Remember that horrible thing?
My parents bombarded us with stories about little kids who got killed because they were talking to strangers online. They scared us into never talking to anyone over the computer. We weren’t allowed to get AIM to talk to our friends; no MySpace, no chatrooms, nothing. We had e-mail, to talk to family members, and occasionally friends, once their e-mail address had been confirmed. Under no circumstances were we allowed to talk to anyone who had not been approved by our parents.
Of course, we went behind our parent’s backs and downloaded AIM, and signed up for MySpace. But I was still very careful of strangers. My parent’s scare tactics did work.
Even to this day, I hesitate when talking to strangers. So what is this post, with a very long introduction, about?
Talking to strangers online can be very rewarding. Of course, you should make sure you are careful, and never give out your personal information. But you can learn a lot from people online. About 40% of the world’s population is connected to the internet. While that’s not a majority, it’s still a lot.
You can talk to people you never would have met otherwise. I’ve made friends in quite a few countries I’ve never even been to. I’ve also learned a lot about the cultures of these places. I’ve learned languages I never thought I’d learn.
It’s always good to meet people from different places and a different way of life. It gives you a little perspective. I see the way other countries view my own, and I see how the laws we make effect others.
So how do you meet real people online who don’t have any negative intention? Well, certainly don’t try to do it on chat roulette, or omegle. While those are fun to go on to talk to strangers, they’re not the best place to make friends. Instead, try social networking sites. Facebook is a great way to meet new people and communicate with them. Twitter and Instagram work too, but those are harder to have a conversations on.
Facebook? So I should add all those people who send me a request with no mutual friends? No. Well, you can, but that’s a little sketchy. It might be a better idea to join a group. Find something that you like, that you would be willing to talk to others about. Maybe you really like gardening. I’m sure there are plenty of Facebook groups centered around gardening. Find one you like and join it. You’ll probably get a bunch of tips about gardening, and you’ll meet some cool new people. This works for TV shows, Bands, Artists, etc. But be sure you’re joining a fan based group, and not just liking the official page.
Once you’ve joined one of these groups, introduce yourself, first. Then be sure to engage. Comment on other people’s posts; have discussions. Soon, you’ll meet some people and maybe even add them as a friend!
You have to be willing to put yourself out there a little bit, just be sure you’re not making a target of yourself.
Talking to new people is always fun, and you may even find some new hobbies!
Most importantly, be safe when talking to strangers! I trust you all to be smart!