Social Networking Services

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Social networking services can be found that are designed to cover the gamut of platonic friendships to serious romance and everything in between for those who are looking for relationships through online sources. There are also online network sources that offer more specific services such as matchmaking for those with marriage in mind. Almost everyone who enters the online world, no matter what personal characteristics they possess, can find something of interest through an online network that is designed to foster various relationships among the worldwide population. An abundance of social networking sites can be found by simply conducting a search through the various search engines.

Not everyone is inclined to become involved in the many cyber social opportunities that await the adventurous. The reputation of some adult sites, both past and present, as well as the proven dangers caused by thoughtless users who have offered personal information on unguarded sites has posed a potential threat to many people. Some Internet visitors would otherwise check out various social networking sites if these threats seemed minimal and the positive benefits were sufficient enough to warrant a try. With the continued advancement of online security features among reputable sources as well as the saturation of safety information among online participants, potential users can generally lay down their fears and join up with many free social networking services that have their best interests in mind.

For those who have justifiable concerns about adult sites that offer very little controls as well as a lax policy concerning sexualized content, there are many other options that are Christian oriented or that operate under a general moral code. These types of social networking services can be fun, interesting, safe and productive for everyone. Features such as pen pal options, instant messaging, email, message boards, forums, chat rooms and personal web spaces are common among many sources. Media features are oftentimes available such as photo and video options. Some advanced features can be found among some sources that also offer web cam options to users who want to interact in a visual, online environment.

The pen pal option is a fun feature for many who want to email and write someone who has similar interests. This adds a personal touch for many friendships that are developed long distance and generally appeal to more mature users such as middle aged or senior adult participants. "Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel." (Proverbs 27:9) However, many college aged and twenty something users have been known to participate in this option even though they are more inclined to use features such as instant messaging and chat rooms. Instant messaging is by far the most used feature within most social networking sites since it operates in real time and allows users to chat with one or more participants simultaneously.

Users of instant messaging systems can develop a 'buddy list' where each friend is listed by a 'handle' or alias. This insures the anonymity of users until there is a sufficient reason to bring the 'walls' down for a more personal talk online or a meeting somewhere offline. Instant messaging comes complete with features that block, warn, accept and ignore other users. It also has the capabilities to cut and paste information, send icons and other content to participants. Buddy lists can be large or small, depending on the user's preference and is at the sole control of each user. Many social networking services offer instant messaging systems within the community data base which adds privacy and security for all users. Each service also usually offers email capabilities for its online community which makes it easy for users to communicate through that source rather than divulge personal emails.

Message boards and chat rooms are commonly available through many sources which allow users to log in and make comments on specified topics. This is not operated in real time, but allows a spacing of comments that make some users more comfortable in interacting with others. Chat rooms are in demand within most social networks and provide an atmosphere for live, real time comments among participants. Everything from simple text chats to 3D interaction complete with avatars can be found among many services. Attempting to socialize in a room where there are avatars flying around can be disconcerting to some new users who are at the moment trying to simply master text interaction.

Users who participate in chats should always find the room that they are the most comfortable in and proceed from there. Most social networking sites also offer a bit of cyber space to each user where he or she can design their own profile page, upload photos to share with others and add video, music or other media stimulation. Some sites allow users to hook up their own web cams to enhance their online experience through visual encounters with other users in their community data base. There are many free social networking services that offer accounts that can be opened by anyone who wants to try out online social interaction. These accounts can just as easily be closed by a participant if it doesn't work out satisfactorily. Finding a social networking cyber 'home' for everyone is very easy, free, safe and can be productive in finding the right relationships for anyone.

Online Matchmaking Service

An online matchmaking service can be a great way for single people to meet each other. But as with just about anything that involves the internet, people need to be careful about the services they sign up with and the personal information that they provide to others. Two or three companies dominate the online dating industry. Someone who has little or no experience with virtual dating might want to get started by visiting the websites of these major companies. After all, their popularity guarantees vast numbers of other singles are also on the sites. One of these individuals just might be the right match. The larger companies probably have worked out any glitches in their software systems so that the application process and searching functions should work correctly. Additionally, as industry leaders, these companies have a reputation to protect. Should a customer have a problem, it's more likely that a well-known company will have ready-made solutions to common problems and a customer resolution staff to assist with more difficult situations. On the other hand, some individuals may be more comfortable with a smaller online matchmaking service, especially one that has exceptional search features or more personal customer service.

Prospective visitors may be interested to know that some relationship experts make a distinction between dating and matchmaking. Dating is considered to be more of a general activity. But matchmaking has the specific goal of bringing two people together who want a lifetime commitment to one another. Technically speaking, an online matchmaking service is designed to help an individual find his or her future spouse. Virtual dating services do not necessarily have this worthy goal. Most people don't make this distinction, but use the words "dating" and "matchmaking" interchangeably. Even so, someone who wants to get married should evaluate and review sites that also promote this goal rather than wasting time on services that offer little more than casual flings. Marriage was instituted by God in the earliest days of creation so it's not surprising that so many people feel a deep longing to share their lives with another person in this legal commitment. In a beautiful expression of loving commitment, Scripture says: "And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh" (Genesis 2:23-24).

Signing up with an online matchmaking service isn't difficult. Most of these dating/matchmaking services operate in similar ways. Some even specialize, limiting members to certain religious beliefs or nationalities. A few even have a selection process that excludes those of lower income levels. But the majority of these companies aren't that snooty. Prospective visitors just need to be aware of the different types of companies and find the ones that best suits their needs. For example, let's say that Henry has spent the past several years going to college and establishing a small construction company. Now he is ready to get married, but he's not meeting many women at the construction sites. Not only that, but Henry has deeply held values. Unfortunately, the only single women at his church are elderly widows. Lovely ladies they are, but Henry is looking for someone closer to his own age. He signs up at a reputable and well-known online matchmaking service by creating an account. Henry will probably be asked to create a user name and password and to complete a questionnaire. Depending on the particular company, Henry may be able to search through photos and profiles. Or Henry may receive the profiles of women who, based on Henry's answers to the questionnaire, share his values and interests. It's up to our bachelor to decide which women to contact.

Even people who use the internet on a daily basis are concerned with identity theft issues and the security of personal information. One benefit of using a well-known online matchmaking service is that participants know that the company is legitimate and not a fly-by-night scam. But participants should still be careful about providing too much personal information. The company may be legitimate, but that doesn't mean that everyone using the company's services provide honest information in their profiles and communications. Some company's give participants an email address to use when corresponding with other members. This way, a participant doesn't need to provide a personal email address to strangers. Before signing on with online dating/matchmaking services, visitors should familiarize themselves with the company's privacy policies.

An online matchmaking service, just like any other company, needs to make money in order to stay in business. Typically, participants may a monthly fee for access to the other participants' profiles. Here again, visitors should carefully read through the terms of agreement before accepting them and thoroughly understand what fees will be charged. Though there is such a thing as a free online dating/matchmaking service, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Free services almost always depend heavily upon on advertising to generate revenue. Annoying ads can hinder smooth navigation of the site and be frustrating to the visitor. All things considered, an online matchmaking service can be a great way to meet members of the opposite gender who share one's personal values and interests. But participants just need to be sure that they sign up with a reputable company that protects personal information and is upfront about all fees and charges.

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