In A Crowded Room

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate November 2001

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Meeting new people has been known to start with an exchange of glances while in a crowded room. Nowadays some of these meetings are met across a crowded feedback pane of a busy website or of a cyber chat room on the Internet. Many people have found friendship, love and danger in such places.

I have wondered why apparently sane individuals have been reported to go crazy chatting on the Internet, and I had finally realized what made it so interesting. Cyber chatting is so appealing because it gives you the freedom to be anything you want to be. From they said, "When you enter a chat room you have to give an alias or nickname and you can pretend to be anyone you like. In fact adopting a new persona is part of the fun for many users. Behind a mask you can confront people, flirt or tell jokes and by using the language of chat escape into another world."

Chatting can be fun, yet it can also be dangerous. It allows you to meet a variety of people.

The Internet has brought the opportunity for many individuals to meet others around the world. The most popular way is through cyber chat. These meetings can stay on-line or can move into off line meetings. Sometimes these off line meetings can be good, bad, or dangerous.

Being an Internet junkie, I have met a variety of people through the Internet. Most of the people that I encounter online seem to be extremely interesting, although some may also be aggravating to come in contact with.

One person I met because of the Internet is my Kuya Ray (Kuya, meaning older brother in the Tagalog language). I met him because we have been working together for over a year in promoting a singing group from the San Francisco area. He lives in San Diego and I live in Los Angeles. The main way we could communicate is through the Internet. Our everyday instant messaging of "Can you please work on the weekly newsletter?" turned into "Hi Apes (my nickname)! ((Hugs)) How are you today? " Working together became more than being partners, it formed into friendship. Sometimes we would talk on the phone for a little while. Usually it was just to say "hi". I finally met him after working with him for so long and I felt like I was related to him. I consider him to be the older brother I have always wanted.

I have been able to form other such friendships, but not as special as his. I know that I am lucky to have met someone who was honest and true about himself. It is rare to find someone like that over the Internet. For example, one may fall in love with someone over the Internet, but that person turns out to be someone else.

My friend had fallen in love with a guy she met over the Internet. He lived about twenty minutes away from her. They had been chatting for about six months. He would say that he misses her and he would give her interactive hugs and kisses over the Internet. They even talked over the phone from time to time. After getting to know each other, they decided to meet and they were both going to bring someone with them so they would not feel too awkward in meeting each other for the first time. He was no longer going to be just words on a screen. He was no longer going to be just virtually real, he was going to be really real.

When she saw him, she told me that he was really cute, but much cuter because of how much he liked his personality. They met and he introduced her to his girlfriend. My friend was in shock. Ever since she started chatting with him all she wanted was him, but it turned out that he was already taken. She was heartbroken and tried her best to stop chatting with him, but he still whispers sweet nonsense to her over the Internet even though he has a girlfriend.

I used to be afraid that something like that might happen to me. If a person does not feel comfortable in meeting an online chat friend in person then that means they have their doubts and they should not go. If you have enough experience from chatting with different people, you can sort out the good ones from the bad ones, but this is not always the case.

There are many cases of children and teenagers being kidnapped and abused by their chat mates. Such people lure them by becoming their friend and gaining there trust. Once the perpetrator has established that he asks to meet the victim offline and does what he had planned to do the first time he ever chatted with the victim.

One case I read about from, a 13-year-old girl was sexually abused by a 33 year old man who she had been chatting with and decided to meet. She did not know that the man was 33 years old. She thought that her chat mate was the same age as her. After the incident she broke down and told her parents. Immediately the parents contacted the police and the perpetrator was arrested. He was later released on bail until further investigation and the lab results.

It turned out that he had another victim in mind. The police had caught him in the act by a tip from his co-workers who found disturbing emails that he composed. They put a surveillance team on him and he was instantly arrested again when the next victim was about to get into his car.

That is just one case. There are many others who are victims or are becoming victims of such perpetrators. This is just an example of how dangerous chatting can be if you do not know the person you are talking to.

The Internet has its advantages and disadvantages. The Internet has opened up a great source of communication to people around the world. Meeting with others one chats with can be somewhat deceiving, but at times can also be used as a form of entertainment, or a form of communicating with loved ones. We must realize that chatting on the Internet is not a toy that you can play with and it can bring harm to those who do not use it correctly.