If you are anything like me, you would like to trust most people and see the best in them.It’s good to be a glass half-full kind of person, rather than a glass half-empty pessimist. Seeing the good in people instead of focusing on the negative is a great trait to have, but there are times when that can create serious problems. Those times involve online dating. There are millions of people using online dating apps or social networking sites to meet people and, while there are some great potential matches on them, you still have to weed through the ones that aren’t a match. The big conundrum facing many people is how do you really know if the photo and profile of the person you are communicating with is actually them? How do you know their photo wasn’t taken from somewhere else on the internet? I know someone who had never engaged in online dating, yet someone managed to get his photo from a professional networking site and create a fake profile with it. I am sure you have seen some of the Primetime programs — such as W5, 20-20, Marketplace and 48 Hours — that feature people who have lost everything after being scammed online. There are criminal organizations that use photos and catfish (to lure people into a relationship by means of a false online persona) vulnerable people. Many of these incidents lead to abuse, deception and fraud. I would like to think most people would consider it a red flag to be asked for money or a gift by someone they haven’t even met. Yet there are university-educated people who must be craving love and a relationship so much because they fall for the words they have been longing to hear. Those words fill a void and, suddenly, they find themselves giving money to a stranger.
I wrote a column last year about the true story of Dirty John, which became the subject of a podcast and Netflix series. It is absolutely fascinating and frustrating to see Deb Newell put aside warnings from her family and friends that her new handsome and charming love interest was too good to be true. I won’t spoil the ending, so go watch the series or listen to the podcast.In some cases, catfishing can be used for good. Undercover police can pose online as minors to catch pedophiles. There are, however, dangerous repercussions that arise catfishing. Consider the tragic case involving Australian actor Lincoln Lewis. A woman in Melbourne used Lewis’ profile to catfish people online. One of the scammer’s targets, a woman who had gone to school with Lewis, eventually took her own life after being tricked into an online relationship by the person using the actor’s profile.Anybody today can create an online dating profile using any photo and profile found on the web. I have tried it and found it is easy to do.There are many other concerns people have about dating these days — especially those in their 60s 70s and 80s. There are issues such as health, finances and intimacy.The great news is there are three Dating Over 50 educational seminars being offered by the Thompson-Nicola Regional Library. These sessions are free and in a safe setting where you can contribute to the discussion or simply observe and learn. If you have a parent who has been widowed or a friend who is divorced after a lengthy marriage, there are some great tools being offered in this new world of dating to help them manoeuvre through it better. All three sessions of Dating Over 50 will be held at the downtown Kamloops Library, at Victoria Street and Fifth Avenue, on on Jan. 21, Feb. 18 and March 17, from 6 p.m.to 7:30 p.m. The sessions are free and no registration is required — just drop by, with a friend or by yourself.For more information, call the library at 250-372-5145 or check out its Facebook page.If you are a single, happy person and want to meet a real person who actually matches their profile, contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org because I have actually met them all in person.