The internet can allow you to connect with people across the globe – but is this always wise?

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

The internet can be a brilliant tool. You can use it for streaming, socialising, shopping and research. You can use it to interact with people across the globe. It can help you to learn about the world and things you are interested in. It can help you to connect with people who share your interests.

Sometimes people use it to seek out the ‘love of their life’. But is this wise? Here are some things you need to think about:

It’s not as real as it feels.

If you engage in an online relationship, it may feel very intense and therefore very real. However, you don’t really know who you are talking to. You’ve probably heard the warnings about dangerous people on the internet, and it isn’t always that easy to spot who is dangerous, especially if they connect with you emotionally and intellectually. You may form a bond with them far faster than you would if you met them first in person. This is in part because they present only their best side, or, as in the case of ‘catfishing’, a totally fictional self and you only encounter their representation. Once they’ve got you hooked it is easier for them to manipulate you for financial, emotional or sexual gain. It can lead to you being abused and it may not even feel like abuse. You need to guard your heart and be careful not to be naïve.

How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.

Psalm 119:9

The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps.

Proverbs 14:15

It can be one dimensional.

If you’ve read “5 questions to ask yourself before going out with someone”, then you know it is important to consider various aspects of the person you are interested in before you start the relationship. With online romance, you start the relationship right away without being able to make observations beforehand. You don’t get to see how they interact with the world around them, how they really treat other people, whether their beliefs are practiced in their everyday lives. You lose out on the context for this person and this can leave you with a one-dimensional view of who they are.

Take care.

Online dating can make it easier to communicate and for some older people, who know their boundaries, these interactions have blossomed into marriages and families. But it is easy to be fooled, hurt and manipulated. And just because it starts online doesn’t mean the danger will stay only online. Unfortunately, it can spread into your everyday life and put your physical self, not just your cyber one, in harm’s way. Be careful, cautious and have more to your life than the online world. Don’t share your personal information or send money. If you are talking to someone online, let your parents, carers and friends know. If someone asks for intimate photos of you, or for you to make an intimate video of yourself, stop contacting them and tell those you know.

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.

Proverbs 4:23