On Being Catfished

I’ve been binge watching MTV’s “Catfish: The TV Show” for a few weeks now. (Yeah. I have no life.) It’s a reality show about online relationships.

To “Catfish” someone is to lure him or her into a relationship by means of a fictional online persona.

What fascinates me about this program is the level of suspension of disbelief that people are willing to engage in when looking for love. They can be bobbing in a virtual sea of red flags, but prefer that state of denial to being all alone in the world. I kind of get that, actually, but it still makes me sad.

This show allows these couples to meet for the first time, and the results are usually heartbreaking. Almost always, at least one of the people is not who they claim to be. People often steal photos of younger or more attractive people off the internet, and use them to create fake profiles. The real person will often be older or fatter or even a different gender. And of course, a lot of married people use cyber relationships as a way to cheat without “really” cheating.

Also, people tend to make themselves appear much more successful in life than they actually turn out to be. It’s amazing how many people actually believe that professional models have to resort to cyberspace to find a mate. I mean, come on, now. Seriously?

Of all the episodes I’ve seen so far, though, the one that made the hair on the back of my neck stand straight up was Season 2, Episode 9: Artis & Jess. (Spoiler alert!) “Jess”, who appears to be a sexy young lady, turns out to be a really scary, mentally ill, and very angry man with no moral compass whatsoever. I thought that episode was going to end in violence, to be honest. I mean, this is a very, very bad dude. And he played with this guy’s emotions for 5 months.

That’s the tragic thing about catfishing. The sociopaths who engage in this practice do not seem to grasp that there are real people with real feelings involved. Usually these people are very lonely and very much in need of companionship and compassion. They are the most vulnerable among us, and the most susceptible to victimization. The most outrageous catfishers are the ones who reel people in and then extract money from them. That’s just wrong on so many levels.

So, imagine my horror when I was casually looking at the search terms that people have recently used to come across my blog, and one of the ones I found was, “image of a nice girl for Facebook”. That made my blood run cold, because I have, indeed, posted a few images of myself on this blog. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to use a photo of an overweight 52 year old woman to create a fake persona, even if I am quite a catch, but there you have it. Someone out there is looking to deceive. I just hope they didn’t settle on my image to do so. I’d hate to think that somewhere in this world there’s a lonely person gazing at my picture while having their heart broken.

Rule number one if you really want to make sure people are who they say they are: Video chat. Or, barring that, at least have them send you a photo of themselves holding a sign with your name on it, along with the front page of today’s newspaper. There are just too many sharks swimming amongst the good fish of this world.

Guard your heart. It’s a precious thing. And once it’s broken, it’s never the same.


Claim your copy of A Bridgetender’s View: Notes on Gratitude today and you’ll be supporting StoryCorps too! http://amzn.to/2cCHgUu

8 thoughts on “On Being Catfished

  1. Firewalker

    You have some wise advice in your post! I’d suggest people also do a reverse image search. I sometimes do a reverse image search to look for people using copies of my graphics. These 2 websites are very helpful. https://www.tineye.com/ and https://images.google.com/. You upload the image and the site searches for a match or an image closest to a match.There are a lot of websites that will let you do an image lookup. I had a person I didn’t know drop a supposedly real life picture of themselves on me in an online virtual world. I did a reverse image search on the picture and found it came from Getty Images. It was also being used on several Asian websites. It’s not much help for people who may think they are being cat fished but it’s a resource.

  2. I had never heard the term “catfish” until recently when I watched an episode of the Dr. Phil show when he brought in two people who were each trying to fool the other one. Each had created a false persona. Catfish is a southern term, maybe??? Another thought is that there is more safety in “references” if your friends and family also know a person, and you know the other person’s workplace, family, etc. In this age of the Internet people can more easily create a false persona, when you can’t really research their story.

  3. lyn sutton

    Wonder how much of this show is natural and unscripted? After watching Unreal, a critically acclaimed series about the lengths the producers of a reality show are willing to go in order to manipulate the participants for ratings, I wonder if any part of these shows are honestly real. I’d imagine actually getting catfished could potentially cause permanent damage and I’m worried that someone would use you this way.

      1. lyn sutton

        Never know what profile and promises they might be posting to lure someone in under the guise of your nice girl image.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s