Safe online social contacts

The turn of the 20th and 21st centuries revolutionized the world. The dissemination of the Internet invention, bringing it to almost all homes in the highly developed part of the world, brought and still brings broadly understood changes in interpersonal contacts. Young generations who have undergone or are undergoing the process of socialization in a world integrated with digital reality, accept both the real and virtual world as the norm. For generations born in the first half of the 20th century or shortly thereafter, the virtual world can often be an unnatural environment. However, this does not change the fact that the digital world has become an almost inseparable element of our lives.
The aim of this article is to show people who have reached the conventionally accepted age limit of 50 how to find their way in interpersonal relationships that function on the Internet. While many of us have everyday ease in establishing and maintaining social contacts in the real world, the virtual world is governed by its own rules. For this reason, it is worth knowing a few rules that will make it easier for us to socialize online.
Meeting with friends, family, people related to our work, or going to a meeting at the office, at the doctor’s, etc., we prepare ourselves accordingly. Depending on the type of meeting and the circumstances, we choose the right outfit, make-up or take appropriate things with us. We use a different choice of vocabulary, different body expression, etc. Contemporary, adult and older generations can perfectly find themselves in such situations, skilfully adjusting their appearance and behavior to the type of meeting. They are familiar with the social norms developed over the years in real public space. How do they manage in the Internet space, whose norms of behavior are still being formed?

Dear adult Internet users! To better understand the rules of the Internet, we encourage you to familiarize yourself with a few rules described below. We hope that they will allow you to better understand the digital world and make it easier to establish new social contacts. In the space of the Internet you can find many companions, maybe even friends with whom you will find common topics to talk about, common passions and interests – and the distance from your place of residence will not be a barrier here! However, first learn a few rules that can protect you from unnecessary stress.

Rule number 1. Take care of your virtual image.

In real life, each of us is perceived through the prism of many elements that make up our total image. We are talking about our appearance, clothes, manner, body language, tone of voice and many others. It would seem that the principle of perceiving through prisms does not apply on the Internet. Nothing could be more wrong. Only the criteria change. We invite you to familiarize yourself with some of them below.

  1. “language” criterion

We should take care of the language of our own posts. How and what we write affects how we are perceived. When speaking in public space, the lack of profanity and opinions based on substantive grounds will serve our positive image. We should also feel responsible for admonishing people who do not comply with the rules of word culture on our pages, groups or profiles – then we have the right to admonish them – just like guests in our home.

  1. the criterion of “image consistency”

Let’s make sure that our image on the web is consistent. If we have been working for our good image and social respect for years, let us not get carried away by emotions or the very common phenomenon of hatred on the Internet. Some posts, videos, articles or comments are published mainly to arouse indignation of the recipient and then force his reaction. The more such reactions (very often aggressive, uncultured, etc.) there are, the greater the profit and popularity of the author of the controversial publication. We leave a trace of aggression and lack of culture in written expression. And a word written on the Internet stays alive in it much longer than a word spoken in the real world. Thus, our image of a person respected in society often shows cracks, because our reactions can be seen not only by trusted friends, but also by strangers, former colleagues, students, clients, supplicants, recipients of services, etc.

  1. “quality” criterion

When publishing videos, photos, posts or comments online, we should ensure their quality. In the case of photos and videos, try to keep them sharp and well framed. In the case of written text, let’s not forget about the rules of grammar, punctuation, etc., and above all about the logic of written expression.

Rule number 2. Find your place in the digital space.

When using Internet resources, it is worth paying attention to the multiplicity and diversity of thematic profiles and groups. Each of us has our own interests. For some it will be crocheting, painting pictures, for others classical music, fantasy books or Italian cuisine. They can also be places related to politics, culture, history, tourism and many others. Social media, blogs, fanpage – i.e. various forms of digital existence have huge resources of places where practically each of us will find a place for ourselves, where we will find information related to our passions. Facebook, which has gained record popularity in recent years, is a place where there are many groups and thematic subpages. By entering the appropriate phrase in the Facebook search engine, e.g. “macrame”, we will come across a lot of suggestions for groups that we can join. It is an opportunity for us to meet other people who have similar interests to ours. In such groups, you can exchange information, advice, ideas, etc. Thanks to common interests, it will be easy for us to establish new contacts, which over time can turn into camaraderie or friendships.

Rule number 3. Stay alert and careful.

Although the Internet has created many opportunities for its users to develop and have fun, it has also become a breeding ground for criminals. Therefore, when establishing social contacts, it is worth maintaining the basics of security to separate genuine relationships based on honesty and respect from those whose purpose is to deceive. First, never unnecessarily publish personal information such as ID number, phone number, credit card number, account number, full address. What’s more, let’s also protect our profiles or pages, blogs, groups belonging to us against unauthorized access – let’s carefully grant permissions to publish on them. Let’s not do it too hastily. If you want to tag someone or publish materials, remember about the right to protect the image of your friends – ask them about it first.

To sum up, the Internet is an inseparable element of people’s lives in the 21st century. Some of us use it on an ongoing basis and with enthusiasm, while others still approach it with a slight dose of distrust. Regardless of our preferences, it cannot be denied its usefulness. A reasonable and skilful use of its resources can turn out to be the solution to many problems. Therefore, we encourage everyone, especially those who cannot, due to various limitations, to enjoy interpersonal contacts in the real world, to take advantage of the opportunities offered by online friendships. While maintaining the safety rules, caution (which we also follow in the real world – it is also not free from crimes and frauds), as well as savoir vivre and personal culture, we can enjoy life among other people. Let’s remember that even if we can’t leave our own home, we don’t have to be lonely!

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