Online Relationship? That sounds fishy.

In the Fall of 2010, a man named Ariel Schulman released an independent documentary he made following the tale of his brother, Yaniv Schulman (Nev for short) on his quest to meet the “love of his life”, whom he had only spoken to online. Sounds cute right? How about when this love of his life ended up being a completely different person, hidden behind a fake picture? The movie was called “Catfish” and since its release, it’s started a worldwide phenomenon. People everywhere decided to contact Nev to see if he could help them meet THEIR online flames. And thus, the wildly popular MTV series ‘Catfish: The TV Show’ began.

Catfish (film)

Catfish (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

‘Catfish’ (also known as ‘catfishing’) is now a term that means to engage in an online relationship with a fake name, personality, and photo, for the sole purpose of deceiving someone. This leads me to address a huge issue with the anonymity of the internet: How do you know someone is who they say they are? Hiding behind the computer, you can pretend to be anyone you want. This gives people endless opportunities for deceit and revenge. What better revenge than making someone fall in love with someone who isn’t real, forcing them to become vulnerable and to open up to a fake person? Such great karma, am I right?

Now, not all cases on the show Catfish are of deceit. Some are genuine people who have genuinely fallen in love with each other. However, this is not common. One particularly interesting episode, one young woman was being catfished by another young woman who simply wanted the first woman to stop flirting with her boyfriend. Is that really worth the two years of time and energy she put forth to make this fake person seem real?

Now what can we learn from this, people of the internet? First, you don’t know who anyone is online. For all you know, I could be Fidel Castro instead of a mild-mannered college student. There are certain warning signs you need to look out for when engaging in online relationships so you know if you’re a victim of catfishing. Luckily, this article from the Boston Better Business Bureau breaks them down for us. In general, be cautious if the person you’re talking about seems absolutely perfect. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If they claim they love you but refuse to talk to you on the phone, get out of there. That’s some true shade. If you try to meet them but things keep “coming up” that prevent them from meeting you at the last minute, honey you probably have yourself a catfish. If they have very few friends on their social networking site of choice, they’re probably not real.

Look, the internet makes it so easy for people to become anonymous or pretend to be someone else. It happens every day. It could even happen to you, if you’re not careful. Be mindful of who you’re talking to on the internet because they could be anyone. Don’t fall victim to a catfish.


6 thoughts on “Online Relationship? That sounds fishy.

  1. I am soooooo glad you mentioned Catfish–love the show! (I had no idea Nev was short for Yaniv! That’s an odd name… Yaniv Schullman..?) ANYWAY! Every time I would turn on Catfish, I would immediately get the chills even during the introduction of the show. Just thinking about what could happen when two people who have been talking online for a while finally meet up made me so nervous. Would the girl be who the guy thought she was? Is he really a model? Was it even a guy she was talking to all this time? It was intense! Seriously, I think I cried during every episode. Of course people should be more careful and mindful of who they talk to and share things with, but it was always so upsetting to see people’s hearts break the minute they gathered that their “soulmate” wasn’t real.
    I remember the episode you mentioned in your blog; I actually thought of it even before I saw that you mentioned it. By that episode in particular, viewers really got a taste of an online relationship gone terribly wrong. It really put into perspective that there are many people out there in the online world who do or say things just to take out their frustrations or to make them feel better about themselves. WIth these situations in mind, the online world can be kind of a scary place, because you are vulnerable without knowing the real truth behind profile pictures and other information.
    Can’t wait for the next season! #nevschesthair

  2. I think it’s super important to say that people might not be who you think they are, I think it would also be nice to point out that sometimes online relationships can work out! I mean, I’ve never had an internet boyfriend, but I have had very close friends on the internet. One became my best friend, and I actually met her in person last year. That same girl met a boy online, and they started dating. She lived in North Carolina and he lived in Indiana, but now they’ve moved in together and they’re very happy. (: But as you said, there are certain signs. I had spoken on the phone with her and seen videos. Her and her boyfriend talked on the phone and webcam all the time. You really do have to be careful with these things.

  3. I think dating online can be a really scary thing. The show Catfish definitely shows that; however, I do agree that the Catfish situations are not always the case, either. With 8 years of virtual gaming experience, I have met tons of people who have actually gotten married after meeting on games. With that said, I also had a friend who had a Catfish experience where the guy she met online was not who he said he was. I think attempting to date online, naturally, people have to be and usually are aware of these incidents. It’s one of those things that comes with the freedoms of the internet.

  4. I’ve never watched this show on MTV before, but have heard a variety people chatting about it. Because keeping your identity hidden online is so easy to do, I am actually surprised television shows like this have not come out sooner. This idea of catfishing reminds me of one of my favorite movies, Napoleon Dynamite, where Napoleon’s brother Kip meets the woman he winds up marrying online. According to 1 in 5 relationships today begin on the internet, leaving much room for catfishing in the online dating scene.

  5. Pingback: Servin’ Up Some Realness | Identifying John Doe

  6. I love the show catfish! I actually saw the movie before the show came out. I had no idea what the movie was and I had never heard of it before but it had come on MTV one night when I was writing a paper and had the TV on for background noise. After listening to the first five minutes of the show I was immediately intrigued to watch just by the little girl abby’s abilities to paint. As the movie progressed I finally realized what it was about and it was honestly ridiculously eye opening to watch. The lies that these people came up with were absolutely crazy! The whole entire time there was no doubt in my mind that these were real people until Nev started investigating. When the ending hit, finding out what the real family that was contacting him was like was shocking. I would have never thought. This movie changed my whole perspective on internet communication and identity on the internet. Now watching the show and seeing that it was not just the one time that it happened to Nev in the movie, but it is happening to millions of people everyday just goes to show that you can never really be positive of who you are talking to on the internet.

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