PHONY FACES ON FACEBOOK

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BY JOELLEN COLLINS

JoEllen Collins—a longtime resident of the Wood River Valley—is a teacher, writer, fabric artist, choir member and unabashedly proud grandma known as “Bibi Jo.”

When checking my Facebook messages, I noted a handsome man smiling at me astride a beautiful horse in equally stunning country. Although the photo was appealing to a woman of my age who might be searching for new men in her life, I am content at this time without a partner. Nonetheless, I did study the image for a moment, admiring the appearance of this fellow, who seemed at least 10 years younger than I. This was coincidental with my posting a flattering photo on Facebook introducing my new book cover that does make me look a few years younger. I was selling a book, not myself. I never thought it might cause some men to be even a tad interested in contacting me.

A few days later, in the Facebook section requesting new friends, this good-looking guy appeared again and so did another gentleman of about the same age, with shades of thick grey and white hair above his attractive face. Then I noticed the same men in different poses, and now checked to see if we had mutual friends. No one was listed for either man, certainly a suspicious circumstance, and then I compared them and saw that both had different names beneath each of their images. I knew enough to realize that this was a catfish operation. Certainly, gurus like Doctor Phil have discovered large numbers of women spending too much money to “meet” these Lotharios. Some of the suitors using phony photos are based in Nigeria or another remote destination where they “need cash” to be able to join their paramours. Often, these sad and needy women are bilked of their life savings. Of course, the “potential husbands” are located away from authorities who could intervene.

I admit to being duped by the barrage of very clever ads on Facebook, only to receive items like a sweater with several holes in the wool, one that would eventually cost more to return because of its origin, China. Since I fell for that enticing “bargain,” I have certainly been wary of ordering anything from Facebook sources, including products especially designed for older women, now appearing with such frequency that I fear someone is anticipating making a killing before I face my demise. I fear that I may have been tagged as being a rather stupid source of contact for the kind of sharks that exploit lonely women.

I may be gullible, but not sad and needy. I can‘t imagine how people find their dates online, and I am happy I don’t rely on this technology to locate a male companion. I bet most online potential seekers of matches are more wary than I might be. Betty White thought Facebook a waste of time. I concur, in part, knowing there are better ways to spend my free moments. Even so, I still check Facebook because there are people with whom this is my only contact in a world where we are mobile and I can easily lose touch with friends, not find mates.

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