What Is Optical vs Digital Zoom on a Smartphone?

If someone from the early days of cellphones were to jump to the present day, they might be confused that one of the features we care most about on our phones are cameras. 

Early phone cameras were absolutely awful, but the ability to have a camera with you wherever you go, quickly made them extremely popular. Manufacturers have thus been pouring an absolute fortune into camera development and now we have phones with cameras that can give professional cameras a run for their money. At least under the right conditions. 

One thing that relatively few smartphone cameras currently have however, is optical zoom. However, you’ll however start to see it in more new phones as time goes by. Which makes it the right time to discuss the issue of optical vs digital zoom.

What Is “Zoom”?

You probably already know what camera zoom is. At least, you know what it does. “Zooming” is a function that makes a subject in your photo who is far away appear close by. The effect on the photo is to essentially reframe it by making the object or person fill more of the space.

There are different ways of achieving this effect, but most smartphone cameras use a method called digital zoom. To understand how optical zoom is different from the digital zoom method we currently use, we’ll first have to explain digital zoom as it’s currently used in the vast majority of phones.

Everyone’s Doing It: Digital Zoom

Digital zoom is pretty much the same thing as cropping and resizing a photo in an application like PhotoShop. The main difference is that you’re doing it live, while taking a photo or making a video. So what’s the big deal? It all comes down to pixels. Which is where the “digital” in digital zoom comes from.

When you enlarge a digital image, it becomes more “pixelated”. That’s because you have a fixed supply of pixels. The only way to zoom is to make the pixels larger. The image becomes grainier, chunker and ends up with a low-fidelity image.

That sounds like a bit of a disaster then for smartphones, but various tricks have been developed by smartphone manufacturers over the years to make the effects of pixelation on digitally-zoomed images less of a problem. Since the cameras on modern phones have sensors capable of capturing many more pixels than most people typically need. So, you can crop to a section of the full sensor resolution without losing any quality. 

That’s perfectly fine if you want to capture a snapshot suitable for social media, but if you want to take a photo at the full resolution of your camera, you can’t zoom into any part of it without losing detail. 

Most people probably don’t care to have massive, full-resolution images that can’t be uploaded to FaceBook or InstaGram at their true quality anyway. However, more and more people are taking smartphone photography very seriously. Which means there’s a market for more premium solutions. Which is where optical zoom comes into the picture. 

Pun totally intended.

Bending Light: Optical Zoom

Optical zoom is simply a method of zoom that uses light to enlarge an image. It works the same as a magnifying glass, bending light through the optical medium (the lens) to create a larger image.

In a dedicated camera, such as a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex camera), you have large lens assemblies that can zoom by physically moving the lens back and forth. This changes the focal length between the lens and the camera sensor. Projecting an enlarged image into the entire sensor.

As you can probably tell from the way it works, this means that the enlarged image projected through the lens covers the entire, full-resolution sensor in light. That means the zoomed-in image has exactly as much detail as the full image on a camera with only digital zoom. It’s truly lossless image magnification.

Optical Zoom Is Hard in a Smartphone

Achieving optical zoom in a smartphone is not a trivial matter. You can’t really have a huge motorized lens assembly on the back of the phone. Although, this has actually been attempted. For example, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom was essentially a smartphone with a compact digital camera glued onto the back. Have a look at this:

Clearly that’s not something you can just slip into your pocket, which is why this approach never really caught on. Instead, modern smartphones simply stick a bunch of cameras onto the back of our phones. Each camera has a different focal length range, so when you add all the cameras together, you get an optical zoom range.

This is not the same as having, for example, a big telephoto lens on a DSLR. That’s because you can move the focal length of the telephoto lens to focus the image at different zoom levels onto the same sensor. The problem is that most multi-camera smartphone setups have different sensors for each lens. The main camera usually has the largest sensor with the highest pixel count. With the wide-angle and telephoto cameras sporting smaller, cheaper sensors.

Doesn’t this negate the entire point? Well in some sense it does, but a multi-camera setup still offers the best high-quality zoom range on a phone. Engineers have come up with ways of combining these different approaches to zoom into something that’s greater than the sum of its parts.

Best Of Both Worlds: Hybrid Zoom

So-called “hybrid” zoom systems use the optical abilities of onboard cameras along with digital zoom and something known as “computational photography”.

Computational photography refers to a set of software techniques that use artificial intelligence and other fancy mathematical methods to change and enhance the images that the camera can capture. For example, artificial intelligence can increase the resolution of an image by “imagining” what it would look like at a higher resolution. 

It might sound like magic, but it actually works pretty well in most cases. Software techniques like these can also help combine the different images from the cameras onboard to enhance the details of the photo at the higher end of the optical zoom range. Even when digital zoom comes into play, all these sources of image data and smart software algorithms can create some pretty stunning images.

Should You Care About Optical Zoom In A Smartphone?

High-end smartphones like the iPhone 12 have a good optical zoom range. It’s not really “telephoto” by any stretch of the imagination, but you can generally expect 2x to 2.5x image size increase with no pixelation. This is perfect for typical use cases such as taking a photo of something reasonably close, which you can’t get physically closer to.

It’s certainly a nice feature to have, but the vast majority of users are going to be perfectly happy with digital zoom. Especially when enhanced with a nice dollop of artificial intelligence. If phones start to offer optical zoom ranges above 2.5x at the same resolution as the main sensor, it would be time to sit up and take notice. However, at the time of writing, it’s not a feature that should affect your purchasing decision.

How to Volunteer for a Political Campaign Online

Thanks to the internet, everyone is political these days. You can hardly open any social media website without being bombarded with the political opinions of every person who has access to a smartphone. Which is a lot of people! 

The question is, how much real change does this bring? If you feel strongly about your brand of politics, whatever it may be, how can you make a difference to the outcome of elections and campaigns? After all, unless you get your candidate into office, the policies you want will never come to pass. Here are a few tips on how you can volunteer for a political campaign online to make a real difference.

Audit Your Skills

If you want to volunteer for a political campaign, online or otherwise, you need to have something to offer. Since this is an online volunteering gig you’re after, that would mean some sort of skill that can be used digitally.

There are more than a few obvious skills that campaigns always need:

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Are you someone qualified in research? Maybe you can help with polling data or setting up surveys. Are you a professional marketing person? There’s clearly a need for people from that profession in political campaigning.

You don’t have to be an ultra-qualified professional or technical person either. Maybe you’re just really good at the whole Instagram thing or are good at spreading the word. The point is that before you can get a gig as a volunteer, you need to know what exactly you’re selling. Since, even though volunteers are not paid, unsuitable volunteers can end up costing a candidate or party a fortune.

Clean Up Your Social Media Image

Before you think of applying to be a volunteer in a political campaign, you should make the effort to go through your social media presence and clean up anything that might make a campaign hesitant to be associated with you. 

We all repost memes or have at least one or two off-color comments in our social media past. Try to look at your online presence from the perspective of the campaign itself and decide whether anything would make you look less attractive as a virtual volunteer. If so, consider either closing some of your accounts temporarily or cleaning up the ones that you’ll need during your stint as a virtual volunteer.

Do Independent Campaign Work

While a lot of enthusiasm and the right skills will make you an attractive candidate as a volunteer for an online political campaign, that might not be enough. So why wait to be selected? Stand out from the crowd by doing your part for the campaign independently. 

Are you a graphic designer? Why not start making great graphics promoting your candidate or encouraging people to vote for your party. Let the campaign know they’re free to use that content if they like it. 

You can also use your existing platform and circle of online friends to canvass for your candidate. You may very well do as much good for your cause as you would have being an official part of the campaign.

It may also make it easier to get in with the campaign in an official capacity. By showing initiative it will either make your application more attractive or increase the chances that you will be noticed and made an offer. However, it’s important that you don’t step on the toes of the official campaign and stay on-brand while not creating the impression of an official association with you.

Join an Official Campaign Group Online

The first and most obvious place to go when you want to volunteer for a political campaign is the official campaign website, social media page or Facebook group for the politician or party you want to support. They will usually have postings for volunteers and many of those positions are going to be for virtual volunteers in particular.

Don’t worry if their main, big-tent campaign site doesn’t seem to have anything or if there’s too much competition. Large political campaigns usually have hundreds of smaller chapters and regional projects you can volunteer for. 

As a virtual volunteer, you don’t need to focus on campaign chapters that are close to you either. Any section of the campaign which could use your help is a potential target. So look for the ones that seem the most in need of help and start by offering your services there.

Cross-border Volunteering

Politics are a global issue more than ever, so why limit your volunteering to your own country? Whoever is in charge affects more than just the citizens of that country. So if you have a preferred candidate or party you’d like to see in charge in another country, why not volunteer to help? The internet turns the whole world into a global village, so even if you don’t have the vote, you can still make your voice heard!

Search for “Virtual Volunteer” Sites Online

“Virtual Volunteers” are people who do exactly what this article is about, except they do it for all sorts of causes. Which means you’re likely to find volunteer opportunities for political campaigns right next to ones for helping hungry orphans.

VolunteerMatch is one site where we found more than a hundred political volunteer projects, which includes voter outreach projects. You may also find opportunities on freelance sites such as UpWork or Fiverr, but be extra careful with these. Which brings us to the next tip.

Be Wary of Scams!

Sadly, there will always be a new scam whenever a new type of online activity emerges. We’ve already seen it with fake donation drives for charity, and that applies to people looking for campaign donations as well.

When it comes to being an online volunteer for a political campaign, be sure to do some homework to make sure that the people you’re providing your time and skills to are actually officially affiliated with the campaign you want to support. More importantly, you should never have to give money to a campaign in order to volunteer. It’s fine to also donate financially, but if it’s a requirement in order to volunteer things are certainly fishy!

Always get third-party confirmation that whoever you’re being offered a volunteer position with is above board. It usually doesn’t take much effort to ensure that you aren’t being taken for a ride!

The Digital Political Game

The use of virtual volunteers is still quite new, as is the importance of crowdsourced help and social media management. This means that it’s not just you who are new to the whole idea of being a virtual volunteer, but the campaign managers themselves are making up the rules as they go along.

Add to this the unique situation of a global pandemic, new ways to vote and some unique campaign challenges and it’s both an exciting and daunting job. But if you have the passion for it and are willing to go the extra mile to be politically active, then only your talent and imagination limit what you can do to change the world.

8 Google Search Tips: Always Find What You’re Looking For

These days the first thing we all do when looking for answers is to “Google it”. Alphabet’s search engine company has created an incredibly effective search engine. Which is why it can be very frustrating when you can’t figure out how to get the results you want from Google. 

Well, if you’ve reached the end of your rope, here are a few off-the-wall Google Search tips that might just dig up those elusive search results when nothing else will.

1. Think Like a Search Engine

When search engines index pages, they use various ways to decide how to classify and refer to various sites. They also have to decide how important pages are relevant to each other and how relevant they are to the specific things that you’ve searched.

Google makes use of a technology called PageRank. This determines how important websites are based on how many other sites link to it. So how does knowing this help you?

Well, if the site or information you’re looking for would seem unimportant to PageRank, you’re more likely to find it much further down the list of sites. Certainly not on the first page or two! That’s because you and PageRank aren’t determining what’s important in the same way.

Search engines like Google are also constantly changing and refining how they determine results. While you don’t have to be a search engine expert to get effective results, it can be useful to read updates on the Google search algorithm. If you have some insight into how the search engine “thinks” it can help you figure out why you aren’t getting the results you expect with the search terms you’re using.

2. Think Like Other People

When we formulate search terms, we do it intuitively. Each person is going to have a unique way of phrasing things.They will use the vocabulary they’re comfortable with.There are a million ways to say the same thing and, depending on who you are individually, you may phrase something in a way that’s uncommon or different from the majority of people searching or writing about the topic.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for a cross-cultural bit of information, you might have to do a little research on the terms used by people from that culture and include them in your own search.

Whatever the case, it can help to either make your search more mainstream or tailor it to the region most associated with your topic. Think of the human element involved and spice up your search terms with the right human flavor! 

As an aside, you might want to use Google Translate to change your search phrase into another language if that’s relevant to your search. You might find something on the non-English web that has what you want.

3. Whip Out a Thesaurus

This Google Search tip speaks to the previous one to some extent, but is perhaps a little more by the book.The book in question being a thesaurus! Yes, synonyms, antonyms and all the different words that describe the same thing can be found in a thesaurus and that can help you nail down more search results. Try variations of the vocabulary you’re using in your search and see if they have any impact on the search results you get.

4. Search Around the Thing You Want

You aren’t finding the thing you’re looking for, so why not try searching for things that are closely associated with them? By searching for associated people, concepts and keywords you might just pick up information dedicated to the subject you were searching for. One of those related pages could have a reference in it to an obscure resource that Google missed.

So think about things that people might search who are digging around in the same general area as you and then either search for that or combine those search terms with the ones you’re already using for a more precise result.

5. Play Charades With Keywords

Are you trying to find a song, movie, book or some other bit of media that you just can’t remember the name of? Maybe you watched it as a child and have vague memories of it. So how are you going to find it if you don’t know the most important words, such as the title or author?

You’d be surprised at how accurate a search engine like Google can be if you simply add up all the things you CAN remember about something. If you search “movie with flying dog” Google dutifully spits out The Neverending Story as the result. The more things you can remember, the more likely the unique mix of terms together will lead you to the right place!

6. Use Something Other Than Google

Remember how we said that search engines have algorithms that make them “think” in particular ways? Well, no two search engines think alike. While Google is the most popular search engine, you’ll lose nothing by tossing your search terms into its competitors.This will give you a larger diversity of search results and offers a much better chance that you’ll find what you’re looking for.

7. Ask Other People

Search engines are fantastic pieces of software engineering, but sometimes they simply don’t compete with the wisdom of crowds. This is especially true if you’re looking for information that’s ultra-obscure or specialized. It could be more straightforward and effective to tap into the human brain directly. 

Look for forums, Facebook groups and other discussion spaces where people who specialize in the subject area you need help with congregate. You can also hit up sites like Quora or Reddit and hope that people who happen to know what you’re looking for will catch wind of it. Not everything is on the web or well-indexed by search engines, so don’t write off direct human assistance!

The only real problem with this result is that you have no guarantees of a response and it could take a long time before anyone gets back to you. Still, if you’re not getting anything on Google search, you don’t have much to lose by putting a few feelers out on the web hoping for the kindness of strangers.

8. Learn the Technical Tricks

While Google has been designed to be intuitive and human-friendly, it’s still a technical piece of software. Which means there are plenty of power user features hidden behind it’s simple facade. If you really want to take control of your search destiny, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with these advanced Google Search tips. 

Luckily we have two great guides ready to go, so if you need to upgrade your Google-fu check out 15 Google Search Features You May Not Know About and Advanced Google Searching Using Search Operators.

Combined with a little creativity in your searches, these technical skills will help you ascend to Google mastery. At least until the next major change to the Google algorithm, that is.

How To Tell What’s True or False On The Internet

They say the truth is out there and that does include the internet. The problem is that the truth is drowned out by the sheer weight of twisted, misleading and outright false information.

The good news is that with some (un)common sense, it’s possible to get a good sense of what’s likely to be true or false on the internet.

Consider The Source

True things are true regardless of who says them, but the likelihood of a trusted, transparent source accurately reporting the facts is much higher than ones with a poor or unknown track record. So initially you can assign more weight to sources of information that are subject to regulation (such as scientific or journalistic boards) and stick to known methodologies of gathering and reporting the news.  

Be very wary of random websites with anonymous owners and writers. Such sites can be very popular among a certain type of conspiracy-loving internet user, who will share these links with gusto. If your first contact with a story or information is from such a site, your next step to confirming if something is true or false is to corroborate the information.

Next, Consider Multiple Sources

Even if you regard the first source as being both trustworthy and open, you should look for corroboration of the basic facts from several independent sources.

They’ll provide other angles on the story, additional information and corroborate the sources and reporting of your first source. If multiple independent sources are saying the same thing, the probability of what they say being the truth goes up.

Look For AP-style Coverage

There are many different ways to report a story. The traditional way that journalists are trained to report events and information to the public follows a few basic rules, which include things like:

  • Tell the readers “who, what, when, where and how”
  • Give the most important facts first and additional facts later in the story
  • Report what happened without spin or adding your own opinions

When a story is written from a particular political or ideological view, it begins to stop being news and moves into the editorial realm.

Which brings us to Associated Press or “AP” reporting standards. You can see what the AP mandates here. In short, AP-style stories try to minimize bias and leave the interpretation of key facts up to you. So at the very least it’s worth including the AP version of a story in your total assessment of what’s true and what isn’t.

Videos And Photos Are Not The Truth

We live in an age of advanced photo and video manipulation. Photoshop and deepfake artificial intelligence techniques mean that people spreading misinformation can create all sorts of visual “evidence” that’s partially or completely fabricated.

Which means it’s worth waiting for forensic experts to verify that these media have not been tampered with. Even if a photo or video has not been tampered with, that does not mean it reflects the truth or at least the whole truth.

A photo is just a snapshot in time. It tells you nothing about what happened before or after the photo was taken. You can’t see what’s going on outside the frame and you have no context for the content of the image. All of these things fundamentally change what the image means!

The same goes for video. Videos can be cut in such a way that they align with a certain narrative. Which means you don’t know what happened before or after the clip. You don’t know what happened between cuts in the clip. You also don’t know what happened outside of the frame of the clip. So don’t attach too much weight to either photo or video material by itself.

Review Sources And References

Every story is based on a chain of other reporting until it leads back to the primary source. That is, unless the writer of the story is reporting directly from the primary source! Whenever someone makes a claim or relays events, it’s critically important that you look up the sources they are quoting. Are those sources reliable? Where did they get their information from? 

Crucially, does the quoted source actually support the interpretation or conclusion of the original statement that relies on it? By following the chain of references, you can discover where things have been twisted or fabricated.

Apply Basic Critical Thinking

Apart from fact-checking and considering the source of information, you should also try to go through at least a basic critical-thinking process when assessing whether a statement is true or false. What does that involve? Let’s whip out the bullet points and make it easy:

  • Ask how reasonable the information is. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence!
  • Is the chain of logic unbroken? Is an unwarranted leap of logic made somewhere along the line?
  • Are there alternative explanations or conclusions that can be drawn from the facts as presented?
  • Is there reasonable doubt that the facts could be wrong? (e.g. unreliable witnesses)
  • How feasible is the story as presented? 

The point is not to dig out the real truth just from the information you have at hand. It’s to establish how much doubt is reasonable about what you’re actually seeing. 

Don’t Use Social Media As Your Source Of News

This is probably the most important thing you can do in order to clean up your stream of information. Social media is highly-susceptible to bias, because it deliberately networks people with similar views together. You aren’t getting a feed of opinions and stories that reflect an average or varied set of views.

While it’s perfectly fine to catch wind of something important via social media, it’s not a great idea to look for confirmation or raw facts there. You’re much better off stepping outside of social media and doing your fact finding elsewhere instead.

Apply These Tips Selectively

We hope the advice in this article will help you believe bad information less often and let you identify good information with more confidence. However, it’s obviously impossible to scrutinize each and every bit of information that comes your way each day to this level. You’d never have time to do anything else. Of course, you can always turn to fact-checking sites such as Snopes for most things as well, but even these sites can get it wrong.

So what are you supposed to do then? We suggest that you only apply deep scrutiny to stories and information that matter. That can either mean that they matter to you personally or that they matter in a more universal sense.

Did that celebrity really throw a drink in someone’s face? It probably doesn’t matter. This isn’t an important claim. However, if someone is touting an unproven and untested cure for cancer, that’s very much something to investigate carefully. 

You have to apply a sort of “topic triage” to things and decide which things are too trivial or too irrelevant to you to wrestle with. That being said, don’t pass on information you aren’t very sure about to other people, because it might be relevant or important to them and can even lead to harm if they aren’t critical about it and end up believing it.

Defining whether a claim is true or false can be hard and there’s no such thing as absolute accuracy, but by applying the most basic of filters, you can get 90% there.

How To Make Friends Online

Making friends as an adult is hard. Most people form lifelong friendships in school or college, but there are many reasons why you may no longer be in touch with those friends today. 

Moving to a new city and drifting apart for various reasons are pretty normal. If you now find yourself without a buddy to hang out with, looking for friendship online is a viable option. Yet here, as in the offline world, you have to play your cards right if you’re looking to connect with new people. 

So if you want to know how to make friends online, here are some practical tips to make it happen.

Do You Want Online or Offline Friends?

The first thing you need to consider is whether you mainly want to make friends with people online who you only plan to hang out with online or if you want eventual real-life meetups. The reason this matters is because you only have so much time to pursue friendships.

If you want to leave the possibility of real-life meetings open, you need to focus on people who are physically accessible to you. Such as those who live in the same city as you.

If you’re only looking for people to be in a digital pen-pal friendship, then it’s less important where in the world they are. Though you might want to look for people in a similar time zone to your own, if you want any possibility of a real-time interaction.

Keep Romance Out Of It

There’s a big difference between looking to make friends online and looking for people who you want to date and have a romantic relationship with. 

If you say you’re looking for friends as a pretense for romance, then you’re not only being dishonest but also sabotaging both goals. If you’re looking for romance online, be upfront about it and make use of online spaces designed specifically for that purpose. Don’t insinuate yourself into online spaces where people just want to hang out and chat about their hobbies or interests. Don’t make it weird!

Connect With People On Your Level

Shared interests, similar life experiences and comparable lifestyles are all important factors in building meaningful relationships. Which is why you should look for people who share a significant amount of similarity with you in all three areas.

Not only does it give you plenty of material to initiate and maintain contact, it also means you’ll be more likely to genuinely take interest in the other person, which brings us to the next important tip.

Take an Interest in the Other Person

There’s nothing more off-putting than someone who only talks about themselves. Yet most people like to do it! In both real life and online, it’s a great trick to refrain from talking about yourself unless the other person asks directly.

When having a conversation with someone (online or elsewhere) don’t just wait for your turn to speak. Pay attention to what they’ve said and then ask them to elaborate. We’re not saying you should pretend to be interested or that you should go overboard and interrogate them, but try to make it about the other person. 

Not only does this give you more information about whether an online friendship is possible or even desirable, it will endear the other person to you. Since most people like to talk about themselves, you can give them plenty of opportunities to do so and they’ll most likely enjoy doing it. 

Natural points in the conversation where you can contribute your own opinions, views and experiences will happen. It just shouldn’t be more than half of the exchange! 

Don’t Be a Creep

This is probably a good general life tip, but online the creep factor can bring a fast end to a budding friendship. What do people find creepy? For one thing, going too fast on the course of a friendship, being overly needy and radiating desperation are all surefire ways to send potential friends running for the hills.

The most important thing is to let the relationship evolve naturally. Be a good conversationalist. Don’t share incredibly personal things or ask them before you’ve reached an appropriate level of trust with the other person. Most importantly, don’t attach explicit or implied obligations to the friendship! 

In other words, keep it casual for as long as the other person needs it to be. If that means a casual friendship online on a permanent basis, then so be it. Both casual and deeper friendships are good for you and can exist side-by-side.

Use Platonic Friend Apps

Just as there are applications to help people find love online, there are actually websites, apps and services dedicated to helping people meet with the explicit goal of making friends. One of the advantages of these apps is that they prohibit flirting or other dating-related activities. So if you’re looking for friends, it can help filter out people who are looking for something else.

Patook is probably the best and most focused example. It works a lot like a dating app, with potential matches showing up and you swiping left or right on them. When there’s a mutual connection, you’ll get an opportunity to break the ice and start having a chat. 

Once you’ve talked a bit, Patook will encourage you to take your conversation onto another platform or even real life. Does it work? We’ve actually made real-life friends with Patook! So make of that what you will.

Bumble is another platform offering a platonic friend service, but they also offer a traditional dating app as well. The friends-only version of Bumble is called Bumble BFF and it offers another way to meet people who live in your neighborhood who are also looking to hang out and make friends, without the pressures of dating thrown in the mix!

Safety and Real-life Meetings

So let’s say you’ve made a friend online and the time comes when you both feel you want to meet in real life. This is a big step! Meeting online is one thing, but being in someone’s presence is very different. 

On top of all the normal human anxieties that go with all interpersonal relationships, you also have an added layer of safety concerns. Since you can’t be sure the person you met online is really who they say they are or aren’t part of various scams, such as catfishing. 

Which means it makes a lot of sense to take sensible precautions when meeting a friend you made online in real life for the first time. Here are a few important ones:

  • Meet in a public place with other people around.
  • Take a friend or family member with you.
  • Let people know when and where you’re meeting your online friend.
  • Also let them know what this person looks like and what their name is.

You’ll want to get some first-hand evidence that the person you’re meeting is really who they say they are. You don’t have to be too blatant about this. Chat about where they work or what they’re studying, for example. Of course, you should offer the same sort of information about yourself to build trust in the other direction!

The most important thing is to trust your gut. If something feels off about your in-person meeting, don’t hesitate to leave! Good luck making more friends online!