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I like to flirt online. My mom tells me that itís no different than flirting in person and that I should stop because things can go too far. I think itís safer.

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I like to flirt online. Iím shy, so when I like a guy itís easier for me to talk to him on Facebook than in school. My mom tells me that itís no different than flirting in person and that I should stop because things can go too far online. I think itís safer.óMindy.


Asa Answers:

Dear Mindy,

I would disagree with your mom. It’s way different flirting online than it is in person. I understand why you think it’s safer. The other person can’t see you, doesn’t know where you are. You don’t have to worry about getting embarrassed because they aren’t there to make fun of you. You can chat from the safety of your room without the worry of social repercussions. 

But what makes it different from what your mom was talking about also makes it worse, and I think that was her point. When you are flirting in person, you take a risk. There is always the risk that the other person won’t reciprocate. That is embarrassing. The fear of being embarrassed is what stops you from going too far. That fear does not exist online. Why? Because a lot of communication is nonverbal.

Flirting is more than words. It’s tone of voice, expression of eyes, face, and hands, rate of speech, inflection, and a bunch of other tools. And when you eliminate the use of most of your tools, you increase your chance of failure. Simple text on a screen does not carry the full message to the receiver. It leaves most of the message up to the interpretation of the one receiving it. As part of my job I regularly receive printouts of Facebook pages where something that started as flirting ends as harassment or confusion. They all say, “What I said wasn’t bad! Why did they say that back!” It’s not until I read what they wrote out loud that they get it. They get to watch my face and hear my voice. They end up admitting what they said could have been taken wrong and may be the cause of the problem.

I also want to point out that flirting is not something you should casually engage in. When you are getting to know someone, it’s natural to be at your best. But flirting is destructive when it’s unchecked. I agree with the last part of your mom’s statement. I think you should stop flirting too. I think you should use friendships to be honest and appropriate with people. If you like a guy, you should work on being friends, not flirting. You don’t want to be known as a flirt, online or in person. If you are shy, you can always use groups and friends to introduce you, but flirting online should be eliminated from your activities.

One other factor to consider is the person you are flirting with. You never really get to know them. You don’t know whom they show your conversation to. You can’t really judge their feelings on the computer. There is too much uncertainty. Horror stories abound about people who met online. There is so much risk in this type of flirting that it is best left alone.

There is also a bottom line that you should use in all your communications. The bottom line is found in Matthew 5:37: “But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” Jesus isn’t saying yes and no are the only words you can say. He is saying that you shouldn’t say anything that isn’t honest and pure. Your communication, on and offline, should reflect Christ. If you are looking to have safe conversations, nothing is safer than speaking like Christ.



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