Someone you had no mutual friends with on Facebook just sent you a friend request along with a message saying: “Hi you’re cute, can’t wait to talk to you!” You roll your eyes at the message until you see the person who reached out to you is fairly attractive. Would you accept the friend request and reply? That’s a common question that arises when you live in an era that online interpersonal relationships are noted as a new strand of dating.
Through the humdrum of a much needed lazy Spring Break, I have spent too many hours lounged on my sofa clicking through channels trying to catch-up on any television show or movie I possibly could have missed during the first half of this Spring semester. And while flickering through all the ridiculous amount of channels my mom pays for, I landed on MTV’s Catfish: The TV Show. A show – based on a documentary – about two friends, Nev Shulman and Max Joseph, who travel America helping online couples meet. A
“Catfish” is defined as an individual “luring someone into a relationship by means of a fictional online persona”. The show has received critical acclaim due to its near-fictional storylines and complex characters, but even though millions of viewers tune in weekly, it seems that more and more are falling victim to this social media phenomenon.
With the start of their fifth season this past February, Nev and Max have dealt with about sixty cases on the show, not including the crazy amounts of submissions they must get daily. A vast majority of the people who ask for their assistance are fans of the show, most of which have seen the negative outcomes of being Catfished, but yet continue to be in online relationships with a person they haven’t even met in real life. The crazy part of it all is that they maintain these online relationships for years. It sounds ridiculous that after this problem was brought up to the public eye four years ago after the release of Catfish, people are still oblivious to obvious signs that the person they have stroke a conversation with over DM could possibly be fake.
CATFISH + VICTIM
Catfish: The TV Show has shown us examples of how different social media users can possibly be persuaded and how those doing the persuading use different tactics to reel that person in. Many people start talking to someone online that messaged them initially, because they believed they were attractive. So your answer to the first question, I posed in the beginning of this article, might make you a little more critical of whom you choose to reply to. This being said, many Catfish hook their prey by appealing to the victim’s emotional insecurities (commitment issues, etc.). Victims tend to open up to their Catfish and tell them personal stories about their past and family, and because they are able to find a stranger that doesn’t judge them, they go along with the scenario and catch feelings for a fictional persona.
I believe that a lot of people who Catfish are lonely and need someone to speak to. Rather than try to find someone based on their own personal appearance and life, they decide to alter themselves and hide behind their computer screens. A lot of Catfish victims on the show always get reeled in by those whom they are attracted to or have an exhibit an interesting profile, not even thinking twice about how fake the pictures can seem or how altering lies get in the way. Many Catfish are also not comfortable in their own skin and think that they will only appeal to others by stealing someone else’s photos. The Catfish that are actually out to hurt someone are the ones who are malicious and create elaborate lies to reel the person in and make them feel bad for this fake person, while the Catfish is preying on their emotions in the most devious way. Sometimes this can even come off as sociopathic.
HOW TO CATCH A CATFISH
Throughout the duration of Catfish: The TV Show, there have been many online relationships in which both individuals were really who they said they were. The reason that it seemed fake to one of the parties was because of bad timing, broken webcams, and a lack of knowledge towards technology. If you meet someone through social media that you are really invested in, you can easily search up their profile pictures, phone number, and any other information on Google and see if everything matches up. Profile pictures are really great indicators on whether or not a person is who they say they are, and if there are thousands of search matches for a screenshotted Snapchat photo that should be a big red flag that something is wrong.
When speaking to strangers over the internet, please use caution, you never know when anyone is trying to hurt you and the sooner you can possibly detect whether someone is a Catfish or not, the sooner you can either fix the issue or continue on with your life. Please exercise caution when trying to meet up with someone in real life, either you contact Nev and Max to help set up the meeting or you are 110% positive they are who they say they are. Even then, I would meet that person in a public venue with at least two friends to ensure that you are in the safest situation you can be in.
Be wary of Catfish!
FSU's Premiere Fashion Magazine