We live in an amazing time from a technological standpoint. Just about anyone living anywhere can be easily reached through a few clicks of a mouse or a few touches on a keypad. I am grateful for the internet—it allows me to keep up with folks in the States while living here. It also allows me to minister to hundreds of people through this weblog. I am able to make a lot of friends and ministry connections through this blog, email, friendster, myspace, etc (I’m also able to get in touch with friends that I met long ago). I do have friends (great friends) that I initially met through the internet.
This new technology has given us some interesting options and dilemmas in terms of relationships. This leads to an equally interesting question: is texting/chatting a healthy way to meet people?
The short answer is “maybe.” Here’s what I mean: The internet is one of many ways to connect with other people. It is not necessarily any better or worse than any other way (it simply has its own advantages and disadvangtages). I know people who met online, met in person, fell in love, and got married. Their relationships are just as healthy and Christ-centered as those who met in more traditional ways.
Let me give you a few tips regarding textmates and chatmates. This advice goes for establishing any kind of relationship (friendship, romance, etc).
Safety First: Do not give out personal information (address, etc) to someone you have just recently “met” through chatting. There are a lot of bad people out there who will try to take advantage of such information—predators will lie about themselves in hopes of getting such information. The biggest disadvantage of the ‘net is that it is very easy for someone to lie about himself/herself. Ladies, if you are meeting someone for coffee that you met online, meet in a very public place such as a mall or restaurant–DO NOT MEET ALONE. Bring a friend along. If someone will not meet you in a public place with friends, don’t meet at all and stop all communication.
Respect is a must. Do not tolerate anyone who wants to chat about sexual things. This seems to be a very common problem. You should be upfront about your committment to sexual purity. If anyone does not respect that, then drop them like a bad habit. Don’t tolerate jerks or perverts!
Get Real: You cannot “fall in love” with someone you have never met in person. You can establish admiration, common interest, etc; but you should not get too emotionally involved with someone you have only chatted/texted/emailed with. Meet in person before deciding to pursue any kind of relationship or commitment. Keep communication light and friendly in the mean time.
Talk on the Phone, then Meet Face to Face: If you really want to make a new friend, make it a priority to meet with him/her in person (keeping safety in mind). Even though you’ve had lively online chats, you may find that the two of you have a really hard time holding a conversation on the phone or in person. You just don’t know if you get along with someone unless you meet them face-to-face.
Keep an Active Social Life: It is fine if you use technology to meet people. It is not fine for your social life to be limited to staring at a computer screen. Remember that meeting one person face-to-face is more valuable than fifty chat mates (“. . . better a neighbor nearby than a brother far away” –Proverbs 27:10). Continue to expand your social network. Remember you are still more likely to meet new friends (or even that “special someone”) through traditional ways (meeting at church, a social event, etc).
This is one of the many articles that you’ll find in my book: Basta Lovelife: Making Wise Relationship Decisions.
For those who wish to post a comment on this topic:
I welcome comments, but please don’t insist that I’m wrong because you are “in love” with someone you’ve been chatting with. I’ve already responded to this argument multiple times.
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