Today I was on DailyMail.com wasting countless hours of time as I usually do reading their insane headlines that are so dramatic you would literally think they stole it from an OK magazine article.
I came across one of the worst stories I’ve read in long time, enough to make me physically cover my mouth and have tiny droplets develop in the corner of my eyes. If you want to get an idea of how unaffected I am hearing about horrific occurrences, my DVR is 90% ID channel shows and 5% 20/20 and 5% Dr. Phil.
I read a story about a 40-year-old mother of 3 named Ingrid Lynes who was murdered a few days ago by a 37-year-old man she met online after a Friday night baseball game date. He hacked her body into tiny pieces in her bathtub and stuffed her body parts into a random guys recycle bin (poor dude who had to find that).
If you’re already disgusted without me sharing the worst of the details, good. That’s why I am sharing it. There needs to be a shock factor here that cannot be sugarcoated and let me tell you why.
My friends, myself, my brother, the 10 people who stole my pictures to catfish guys on Tinder, all have used or are using dating apps or sites. Some of us are still on them and when I read these stories it terrifies me. In a perfect world, everyone we swipe or match with would be beautiful, sweet, and respectful human beings but we don’t live in that kind of world. The closest we got to that world was before the internet existed and people could better hide who they were.
People can be WHOEVER they want on the internet. Most of us, minus that one person whose always having a public meltdown via their status, fabricate our lives online. We post our best photos, happy moments, our engagements, our weight loss, vacations, our kids, our airbrushed pics. No one is going to write their favorite hobbies is to hack humans like sashimi, that they got divorced because they cheated, that they’re a deadbeat dad, or just a pathological liar. Bottom line – we show our best face.
I seem to forget this — even having encountered many creep crawlies on the interweb.
Just a side story…
My last year in of high school and throughout college I had a man my father’s age stalk me relentlessly. He had found a public journal I had written in (much like this) and became a fan of my writing. His infatuation went from my journal, to my myspace, to offline. At first I didn’t think much of it and kept blocking him until he eventually sent a letter to my parents home with a calling card inside (at the time I was dating a Canadian and often wrote about the expensive long distance calls), saying it was a gift. I had no idea how he found my address and asked him to stop communicating with me. This went on for YEARS, this guy making new screen names or finding my new screen names. As an inexperienced teenager, it was scary. I didn’t tell my parents because I didn’t want them to ban me from the web or cause him to react anymore than he was. He would disappear for months at a time and then resume contact. It was frustrating.
Eventually I went to college and he followed me there, not physically but was STILL sending gift cards to my dorm for the university bookstore, etc. I never used them. After about 4 years of stalking me, he finally gave up. And it has been at least 5 years since he has contacted me. You just really never know who is out there and who will take their infatuation too far.
This is why I truly am flattered when strangers send me messages on my social media outlets saying they enjoy, relate to, or crack up at my snap chat rants or Facebook statuses but I also barely respond. Because the internet, while an amazing public forum to be open and share, can be scary and you don’t know others intentions. And sometimes when posting you forget you don’t know who is seeing it.
Anyway, after reading this article I was just floored. I recently had been on a dating app (this is a whole other entry) and this story reminded me that you could meet someone heinous and cruel. If you’re someone who uses those apps to find love, the worst thing you think to encounter is a what they now call a Fuckboy/girl, or someone who leads people on to get laid or maybe someone who ‘ghosts.’ However, those could be the least of your disappointments.
I haven’t been dating seriously. I’ve met a few people and made a few mistakes, but after being in a long term relationship I consciously made the decision to stay single for a year to get myself together. But I am still a human and enjoy male companionship, and living in LA it is much easier for a lot of us who are busy or have trouble meeting people out to mindlessly swipe through an app. So when I HAVE met people off apps or sites these are usually 3 protocols I tend to follow (there are always exceptions of course):
1. Always Google a person before you go out with him because you don’t know what you will find. Men, you tend to tell us girls we are ‘crazy’ for doing this if we tell you we did. It is normally not to expose your social status, your salary, or anything else of why I can think you would think this is ‘crazy’ and not smart as hell. You should be googling us too, not just insta-stalking our cute photos. Only a pathological liar or someone with something to hide should think this is ‘crazy.’
As in Ingrid’s case, Google could have saved her life. Her guy had criminal records in not 1, not 2, but 6 STATES!!!! Theft, battery, assault. I have found men on the sex offender list (seriously), have extremely questionable articles written about them, and even found someone I was seeing pop up on some escort websites. Fucking google, who cares if you are crazy, as long as you are safe.
2. This is a no brainer — Always tell somewhere where you are, what time you’re leaving and could be home, and if you’re spending the night etc. Don’t be ashamed of looking easy, if you can’t tell your best friend about a one night stand, they aren’t your best friend. I am always in contact on the first couple dates with a bestie when I go to the bathroom. You better believe I am in there telling her/him all about it went, where we are, and keeping them updated to let them know the guy isn’t a serial killer (yet.)
3. I normally uber to meet him wherever we are going so he doesn’t know where I live…hardly EVER do I let a guy pick me up before 2 successful dates. I’ve had classy guys want to send me an uber and I will give them an address a couple doors down and get picked up over there. Obviously there are exceptions, like if I’ve known the guy a bit or whatever else, but normally I follow this rule. Sometimes I am down with chilling afterwards at their place, but this is ONLY if I am extremely comfortable as you are on their turf and you just never know.
One of my guy best friends always says I am too paranoid and that could be true, but maybe this woman wasn’t paranoid enough. There are literally 10 people out there in the world pretending to be ME right now on an app, do you know how bizarre that feels? In a world where people lack integrity and can be whoever they want to be, you need to be self aware that not everyone is Mr. Rogers.