How connectivity keeps us apart

By – C. Grell

In today’s world of technology, we have various portals to connect freely and openly with the rest of the world. For the average user, things seem safe. But are they? How many of you consider or understand the vulnerability of yourselves, your families, and your information as you surf, research and play online?

In the world of online dating, this has become even more of a concern. With a plethora of apps and websites matching individuals across the globe, these platforms can offer anything from finding your soul mate, hookups, kink, and infidelity– Shorten your life, have an affair. The list goes on for whatever you may fancy, and the players are more sophisticated than ever before because the rules have changed. It has become easy to be stalked online and it is pretty easy to be played.

Traditionally, maybe 20 years ago, it was easier to gauge most individuals. There was face-to-face interaction, a phone conversation, most probably in your own hometown and a date, one that actually picked you up at your home. Today, it’s a little more sophisticated. Today the person you may now be “texting” with can be in a totally different continent, communicating on various platforms with many different individuals that you may never be privy to. There is no transparency, or security for you as to truly knowing who he or she is. You merely have to rely on whatever they tell you as the truth.

For the past 3 years, I have done some intriguing research into this world. Some of the things I have found, heard, and seen are quite entertaining, but some, quite disturbing. It is amazing the characters that surface, and the things that they believe go unseen. Sometimes I would seriously like to laugh out loud and ask, “Does that really work”? Do girls really fall for that? But instead, I file it away as material. It’s really sad when you have to take what you thought was a decent prospect and turn them into a science project. Let’s dissect…

So the one that comes to the top is the popular dating app, Tinder, known for hookups. Then there’s Plenty of Fish, POF as it’s commonly called. Pretty much the same, and both have its share of classless pickup lines. SMH as I think of a few I dare not share, at least not here. Some are downright funny and can be quite entertaining, to say the least. Some are better than others, and quite a few people have met their soul mates on more reputable dating sites.

I actually had the pleasure of meeting a great guy who was the author of four novels, who was doing research for his next book – “Thirty Dates In Thirty Days”. As we sat down and had coffee, well, I had water, I hate coffee breath, and we started getting to know each other, I quickly realized I was the one being researched this time! It was apparent to him I wasn’t the typical “chick” and accused me during our texting that I was a “catfish”, which I had to look up online.

Google search: Urban Dictionary defines “catfish” as “ someone who pretends to be someone they’re not, using Facebook or other social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances.”

So this is when I stopped him and said, “Wait a minute! I’m interviewing you!” It was then we both started sharing stories. He is absolutely hilarious and we became pretty good friends.

It was interesting some of the characters I met and talked to online. I think one of the most bizarre things was seeing how people lied and navigated their way to manipulate others. The ones who cheated on their wives, and also cheated on the girls they were cheating with. It gets messy. But the funny part is when you lie that much; you’re bound to mess up. And in time you will send a text to the wrong girl. Let’s just say they should make a file on each girl, especially the color of their underwear, or just stick to any color, once it’s black. If caught, they sometimes counterattack with the old psychological confuse technique – gibberish used to intentionally confuse and defeat. It masks their deception and camouflages a lie by omission to conceal their dishonesty.

So red flag tips to the unsuspecting doe-eyed female that just met Mr. Mysterious tall handsome dude with deep dark sexy accent – if he suddenly gets busy with late night work dinners, he’s probably seeing more chicks than just you. If his schedule changes drastically, he’s most probably juggling a few more. If at any point he stresses how important you are to him as a “friend”, hehe …run! That’s the kiss of death. You’ve just been introduced to the friends with benefits zone, aka FWB. And this guy probably has a bunch of “friends” + WB. If caught, maybe because you created a fake Tinder account and Stanley swiped right on your new captivating photo, he will tell you-you’re childish or creepy and he’ll be madder than you.

But know that if he says he’s changed his ways, he’s just found a better way to hide things from you. And note; he’s not hiding it as to spare your feelings, which would actually be chivalrous; he’s hiding it so as not to get exposed so he can continue down that dark rabbit hole. If he takes his phone with him to the bathroom, he’s probably not texting his mom. If he suddenly has to cut your dinner date short, he either planned on having dessert with Lola, or he just got a really hotter option than you; hence the bathroom texting.

A Big red flag is when someone on social media does not use their real name, their real profile pic, or a non-descript place for their location. They either do not want to be found by their significant other, or they don’t want the person they are flirting with to find out too much about who they are. They keep things separate, meaning, not wanting to divulge information about their private life, their whereabouts, their friends, and family. They laugh, talk, flirt, and are masters at chatting you up, but they essentially remain anonymous.

But let us get back to what’s available out there. There are also sites and apps for niche dating, if the term “lifestyle” means anything to you, then this is a whole other world. I think one person I talked to equated this to “normal” social media interaction, like Facebook. I hardly think of this sort of activity as normal communication, as my preferences on such a subject is a bit more selective. These groups aren’t geared towards hiking; they are geared towards play dates. They can pick any country they are traveling to and find groups or suited playmates for the times they are visiting. They will be secretive about their whereabouts because they can’t divulge whom they are meeting. And if you’re asked to give advice on gifts or trinkets, it’s probably for his next target. If he asks for recommendations about makeup, it’s probably not for his wife. Let’s just say leading make up stores cater for cross-dressers now, they are a huge market. I’m never one to judge, but be careful of the lies and manipulations before you. The long and short of it all, this “lifestyle” promotes an immense amount of promiscuity. If you’re thinking FWB, this is the place for you. And if you can’t get a hold of him sometimes, he’s probably tied up, literally.

These players are very smooth and their marketing campaign, for the dangling carrot, is far better than any sophisticated sales force you may know. I really think corporations can take advantage of these guys. They have the ability to really sell you the fact that you’re their sole client. I’m curious to see their schedules as they rotate their inventory. The sales pitches increase enormously when they are gearing in on a close. In today’s world, we call that “chatting up”. They will spend weeks, sometimes months chatting up and preparing their next victim. It’s definitely the romance of the catch. Once the contact has been established, communication will dwindle as with any other product and service agreement. It’s a strategic demise, as each portal becomes a stalemate until your last method of communication will be blocked.

In addition to the obvious dating apps, private messaging is hugely popular. With the risks of keeping our information private, and we might ask from whom, the adaptation to secure messaging is seriously sought. WhatsApp worked for a while, and although now that they have worked at encrypting messages, it’s still not password protected. The same goes for Snapchat and the adult version of Snapchat, Cyberdust, and lets not forget about kik. But the number one secure messaging app on the market, made by the Swiss and used by the Germans, is Threema. Totally encrypted with a random Threema ID, about 8 letters and numbers. A key fingerprint of 32 letters and numbers and password protected, if you have an iPhone, fingerprint! Built to be used for sensitive information, business, legal and other more sensitive sources of information, it is also used from the prying eyes of spouses.

The usage of these portals coupled with an equally unprincipled mind can produce some interesting discoveries. I have found that characters choose different portals to separate their various relationships. I have also found that because of the anonymity of the separation, one can carry on multiple relations and no one would be the wiser. Different personas with different tastes lend itself to true variety, tapping into a full spectrum of fetishes. So gone are the days when you would “work” at your relationship, have that discussion with your significant other to improve your relationship, or spice things up in the bedroom. This current atmosphere now lends itself to just fill your needs in multiple areas. No need to upset the home front, just find a target that has the requirements you’re looking for and satisfy it there. It is not uncommon to hear people say they have different interests, and each of their counterparts has no clue of what fetish they were satisfying the night before, as they sit before you at brunch the next day. In an almost forbidden language as to not ask, you are almost afraid of committing some law against their privacy.

Sophisticated players aren’t your typical Joe Schmoe; most of them are very intelligent businessmen that protect their home front. They travel, and they have a series of inventory in each city to pick from for different nights of the week. Better yet if they travel to different countries, it’s easier to keep anonymity since this lends itself to easier methods of termination once they are ready to move on to their next target, or victim.

Vanishing is easy, block the person, change your username, or just simply delete your account. And you will be fascinated as to how many secret accounts and different profiles, including false names to hide their identity, you will find. Excuses abound if you dare ask, for the experienced player will simply tell you they’ve deleted their account, it got messed up, or their account has been suspended.

Conversations along with people that you may have become accustomed to interacting with-gone; worse yet, if you became involved with them or actually genuinely liked them! Remember when your mother told you not to talk to strangers? You quickly realize the danger of speaking with virtual strangers. Vulnerability ensues in the face of the unknown. The effect is damaging to the traditional person who isn’t accustomed to this cold sphere of interaction. A person claiming to be your friend; wasn’t and never was. Most of these people work on keeping you on the back burner and tap into their resources to just fill their own selfish needs -on demand. I actually talked to one guy who said, “When I want to get rid of a girl, I just tell her I’m married and I’m busy with my family ”.

So as many may experience finding their true love online, and may live together in bliss for the rest of eternity, you should always be wary of those who are just looking for self-gratification or to exploit you. These individuals are predators; they will manipulate you and hurt you. The protection of ourselves is so important with this technology. We go to sleep every night, we lock our doors and we put our alarms on. Yet, we open up ourselves to the entire world through these portals. We each live in our own spheres, don’t be susceptible to the likes of a stranger. They are not your friends. You are only opening yourself up to danger if you don’t know everything about whom you’re interacting with. The shift in connectivity has produced a smorgasbord of delightful options to connect with, and no one is planting seeds, they are just sowing oats! Wild oats!

So how has technology changed dating habits in the 21st Century? We are a generation of practical people who are very efficient with our time. Lunch with Su, dinner with Lola, and dessert with Meg AND her friend. Two helpings are always better than one.

But the lesson here isn’t so much that there are unscrupulous people out there, the lesson is in understanding, why. What is causing this immense amount of anonymity and secret behavior? Why are people seeking to immerse themselves in acts that are seemingly self-indulgent? Read my next blog post on “The Truth About Lies” as I explore my findings on that topic!

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