It’s mid-morning on a holiday weekend, I am sipping on a fresh cup of coffee and catching up on social media. I go into my Facebook account and notice I have a new friend request from someone I don’t recognize. We have no mutual friends, but after looking at his profile picture, I decide to take the risk and accept his friend request.
For years, I had only accepted friend requests from people I knew and cherished my 20 Facebook friends. I envied people with 500+ friends. So I decided to increase my popularity.
A day later, I receive a personal message from my new friend requesting to get to know me better. I respond to him wanting to know who he is and how he found me. He told me that my profile had popped up on his page. Based on his Facebook profile, he was in the military stationed in Afghanistan. He had posted some pictures of himself in uniform that looked really nice. I thought well, he is cute and in the military so he’s got to be a good person. I decided to respond by thanking him for his patriotism. I also felt like he deserved my friendship. Hell, he was sacrificing his life for my freedom; so I told him yes, we can get to know each other. I couldn’t think of any real risk, it’s just Facebook.
For the next few days, I began to wake up to lovely messages from my new friend. The messages were sent very early, the earliest began around 4:30 a.m. I attributed this early start to the time difference in Afghanistan. His messages always began with a kindheartedness that comforted my soul – “Good morning my dear.” He was intrigued in knowing all of these things about me. It was also apparent that he had looked at my pictures based on some of his comments. He had told me so many things about himself and I felt like I was beginning to know the man behind the uniform. I had never had an online friend or even tried on line dating so this whole experience was pretty new to me.
If I am being honest, I enjoyed the compliments and conversing with my new Facebook friend. If I am keeping it real, there were several red flags. Therefore, I proceeded cautiously. I wondered why he had no family, a total of six Facebook friends, all women, and other things that did not totally jive. For those reasons, I sent him a message demanding clarifications before we could proceed with our dialogues. I stressed on numerous occasions the importance of honesty to me. I thought my message would either scare him away or if he responds, prove that he is a decent person.
I was pleasantly surprised because not only did he respond but his explanations to my numerous inquiries provided me with a better level of comfort. Afterwards, I reluctantly took a baby step towards giving him a part of my trust. The next morning when my alarm went off, I grabbed my phone and saw a new message. I smiled at the thought of the looming message. I could see the beginning – “Good morning my dear” but proceeded to get dressed for work. I delayed responding until the next day.
The following day while winding down after a long day at work, I excitedly log into Facebook to catch up and read the pending message from my new friend. To my surprise, I have a message from Facebook in my account about my new friend. They had removed his account and were trying to verify his identity. I also noticed that all of the messages that I had received from him had been deleted.
This was very unsettling to me. I began to panic and thought – Who the hell was I communicating with? I actually began to feel violated and mad at myself for trusting this person, even slightly. I had to pose questions to myself – How did I allow this to happen? Was I in need of companionship and flattery from the opposite sex?
After careful evaluation of my interactions with my new friend, I was very happy that I was cautious. I also realized that I could not blame myself for the deceitfulness of others. However, the most important takeaway for me with this whole experience is to never ignore your instincts or “red flags.” We all get them. It’s a sign from a higher, spiritual being protecting us and telling us, no demanding us, to proceed with caution.
I will always listen to my guardian angel and continue to proceed on my journey a wiser woman.