I have never been a fan of talking to people that I didn’t know online. When someone messages me I simply don’t respond, sure that might seem rude but meeting people online makes me feel uneasy. People can put on a different persona, be more confident and even say things they normally wouldn’t. Ever since I was a child I was told to never talk to strangers. But there was a time when I went against my better instincts and responded to someone’s message. Social media was how this all started, Facebook to be exact. These platforms not only connect people with their friends but also allow for people to make new connections and get to know someone before even meeting.
“The relative anonymity of the Internet reduces the risks of such disclosure, whereas disclosing intimate information to members of a face-to-face community can be embarrassing.” (McKenna et al., 2002).
In the beginning of September 2016, I was about to sit my HSC when I received a Facebook message from a boy my age that I didn’t know. After some online investigating my findings concluded that he seemed pretty nice, so I answered. We got along instantly, had some things in common and even knew some of the same people. Our friendship continued through the entirety of the HSC, where we supported one another and continued to learn about what us as individuals liked and didn’t like. Everyday we talked on Facebook and Snapchat, until the 10th December when we decided to go on our first date. Meeting a stranger is a very scary experience especially when your first meeting was him picking me up from my house. From here, we saw each other at least every 3 days. We’d go Christmas light looking, watch movies, get ice-creams, lay under the stars and go to all the different children’s parks in the area just for fun.
Eventually our ‘relationship’ went to the next level, the parents. He met my dad first, followed by myself meeting his parents and 3 siblings. We both met each other’s friends and begun spending the night at each other’s houses. This went on for months until he started acting like his true self. Ultimately, he was making me feel terrible and I reached the point where I was mentally drained and could no longer deal with having him in my life. He didn’t care about how I was feeling, he was more concerned about playing games with me. One day I reached my breaking point and decided to block him on all social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat). This ensured he couldn’t see what I was up to and vice versa. I no longer had any interest in continuing as I needed to make myself happy, which is something this boy was not doing.
“The formation of close interpersonal relationships requires the establishment of trust, that is, a sense that intimate information disclosed in interpersonal exchanges…” (McKenna et al., 2002)
We live in a world that is connected via the internet. Relationships are formed and strengthened through the practicality of social media. My situation further emphasized my understanding of people acting differently from behind a screen to how they do in real life
Mesch, G. and Talmud, I. (2006). The Quality of Online and Offline Relationships: The Role of Multiplexity and Duration of Social Relationships. The Information Society, [online] 22(3), pp.137-148. Available at: https://eds-a-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/eds/detail/detail?vid=1&sid=50667f3b-9a1d-4795-b6d9-464768e7cd47%40sessionmgr4007&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmU%3d#db=inh&AN=9018847%5BAccessed 25 Aug. 2018].