I once read an article about psychopaths, and one of the psychopaths in question said that he could spot his next victim simply by seeing his or her body language during a short walk down a hallway. Chilling. I think about that sometimes, especially when passing a stranger in a hallway. What signals am I giving out? Nothing to see here, actually, but I hope I don’t look like low hanging fruit for one of these morally deficient creatures to reach out and harvest.
But I do know several people who practically have “victimize me” tattooed on their foreheads. It makes me sad. It’s even worse now because they can inadvertently advertise on social media. Doing this, though, is like turning yourself into chum and casting yourself into an even bigger body of water. If you show the world that you’re bleeding, the sharks will come.
Victimizers, as a general rule, are rather lazy. Like lions, they prefer the weak and vulnerable in the herd. They go for the young and inexperienced, or the old and sick. Why chase down a healthy, confident, savvy person when you can go after a sure thing instead? Social media makes the pool of prey even larger and easier to spot.
I know a couple of people who put all their depression, sadness, and insecurity out there on Facebook for the world to see. All their posts are personal and negative and complaining about how they are mistreated by the world, how cruel and unfair people are, and how miserable they have become. That turns into a self-perpetuating situation, because they are then seen as weak, and the sharks move right in. And then, of course, they have even more to complain about. When getting personal, post your happy stuff on Facebook. Talk about the other personal stuff with trusted friends.
I once knew a young man who put an extremely graphic and detailed letter about a recent breakup with his boyfriend on Facebook. He also listed the high school he attended in his small town of less than 600 people, pictures of himself lying on a bed, shirtless, and then a post about how his parents were going to be away for the weekend. I had to call his mother and say, “Every sexual predator in the tri-state area is about to knock on your door.”
And then you have women who pretend they are incapable of doing things themselves so that others will do the dirty work for them. This is a pet peeve of mine. But make no mistake: these women are not the prey. They are the predators.
I knew one woman who claimed to be too scared to learn how to drive, and yet she was perfectly happy to let others drive her everywhere she needed to go. Another woman claimed to be too dumb to understand how to do things related to banking and professional transactions. But she was smart enough to know, consciously or unconsciously, how to guilt others into doing those things for her. Suck it up, ladies. Ask questions, take lessons, make a freakin’ effort and figure it out. Sharks of this nature can pretend to be bleeding, too, and you don’t realize your mistake until it’s too late and they snap your fool head off.
I’m thinking of this stuff today because I just watched a particularly disturbing episode of Catfish: The TV Show. For those who don’t know, catfishing is pretending to be someone you’re not and having insincere relationships online to either con people out of money or naked pictures, or simply because you’re bored and want to play mind games or get some twisted form of revenge. This happens a lot. But this particular episode, called “Paul and Caitea”, made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
Paul formed a relationship online with someone when he was 16 years old. He was convinced it was true love. For two years, his whole life revolved around Caitea. She did a bunch of red flag things. She refused to Facetime with him. (Rule of thumb: Anyone who claims the camera on their phone or laptop is broken for more than about a week is lying.) She would make plans to meet him and then stand him up. They even made plans to live together, but of course she didn’t show up.
Years later, an older Paul couldn’t get Caitea out of his mind, probably due to all the naked pictures she sent him (apparently taken with her broken camera), so he asked the folks at Catfish to get to the bottom of the situation. And (spoiler alert!) it turned out that Caitea was a woman in her 40’s who was using her daughter, Katy’s, photos without her permission to catfish an underaged boy. Because she was lonely.
I don’t know who I feel worse for, Paul or Katy. But the bottom line is that this is a seriously warped woman who clearly needs help. Instead of getting that help, she swam her sharky self around until she stumbled upon a young, naïve kid, and took over his whole world for two years, talking on the phone every night until they fell asleep. That’s sick. Now Paul doesn’t trust anyone, including himself.
Be careful out there, folks. There are a lot of people who don’t have your best interests at heart. If you see red flags, take them seriously. And for heaven’s sake, remember that if you act wounded, you’re not going to get saved, you’re going to get attacked.
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