But what happens when that Twitter friend becomes more than just an invisible sounding board online? What about when you want to meet them? Shake their hand? Get some coffee? Well, as much as I'd love to say GO, DO IT! (Because really, I love you guys, and 90% of you I really do want to meet. So if you're ever at the same conference as me, DO NOT hesitate to tweet me, and let's get coffee!)
Sadly, sometimes, that's not the best advice. But chances are, if you really want to do it, you'll do it anyway, so here are some tips I think you should employ if you're going to meet someone from the internet, so you avoid getting killed (sadly, kind of not kidding. A woman from my home state is currently missing after meeting an online date. Scary).
|He may look cute and cuddly...|
But he may try to eat your face off
There is nothing better than having a lot of witnesses. Meet in a mutually agreed upon place. You want it to be public because let's face it, you don't know if they're a murderer, and well, they don't know if you're a psycho. Witnesses put both parties at ease.
2) Tell people where you're going
If you're like me, you don't have a lot of family around. You're kind of the lone ranger, drifting from one creepy living environment to the next. But maybe you have employers you can tell. Let people know A) You're meeting someone from the internet and B) Where you'll be (maybe even C) What you're wearing that day)
3) Tweet, Facebook, Social media it
If you're meeting someone from Twitter, tag them. Say, "So excited to meet @ThePersonWhoMayLaterMurderMe at The Coffee Shop In The Center Of Town." You say these things publicly because well...if something does happen to you, people will be able to retrace your steps. It will be a starting point.
|Notice the shoes...|
Ready to run at any second
Really, you don't know what you're walking into. You don't know if you'll need to have a quick get away. Wear comfortable shoes because stilettos don't exactly allow for a fast, easy, get away. Plus, it's hard to kick someone in the shin with high heels instead of boots.
5) Be conscientious of age
If you're under 18 and reading this post, I would strongly encourage you to NOT meet someone from the internet. If you really, really want to, maybe bring a parent or a trusted adult. But even then, consider why you're meeting this person. Are they the same age as you? Same gender? Do they play the same sports? But even still, maybe try to bring someone with you. Safety in numbers and all. I trust Twitter feeds more than Facebook because most people on Twitter want to vent about crappy roommates, or weird/funny things that happen. I LOVE my followers. I only friend people on Facebook who I actually know in real life (there is one exception to this and that's because she didn't have an author page to like).
6) Be conscientious of gender and sexual orientation
Personally, I wouldn't meet someone online who is a boy. Simply because he is a boy. I'm a straight female, and as such, I feel meeting a boy somewhere outside my element accomplishes nothing. Maybe if he's a writer, and he attends the same writing conference that I do, I'll maybe meet him for coffee or sit next to him in a panel. But otherwise, I'm more apt to try to meet other women because they seem less threatening to me. But, I could be wrong.
7) Trust your guts
People can warn you all they want that it may be a bad idea. If your instinct is telling you that it is, chances are you should bail out. If you're not comfortable saying "I don't want to meet you now because you asked me to send nudie pictures of myself" just say, "Sorry, this day won't work out." And leave it at that.
We live in a digital age, but we also live in a dangerous age. Even Cosmo has articles about women who get murdered by their boyfriends, by strangers, by friends. Don't let that happen to you. Play it smart, trust yourself, and tell people where you're going and when you'll be back so if something does go wrong (and I truly hope it doesn't) it'll be faster to find and try to rescue you.
With that said, stay tuned for Friday.
Where I met one of my Twitter friends in Boston.