Have You Been Catfished?
I don’t watch a lot of reality television. Frankly, I don’t watch a lot of television at all anymore. Few shows catch and keep my attention. But I am obsessed with the show Catfish even though it always gets my ire up and I criticize many aspects of it.
The show chronicles the discovery that someone in an online romantic relationship is not who they claim to be. Sometimes both parties are catfishing each other, but the show is always told from the point-of-view of the catfishee who is naieve to the phoniness of their suitor.
The term catfish originated decades ago when catfish was often substituted for more expensive fish. For more details about that, read my 2 July 2014 blog post titled, Catfish, Catfish, Catfish. I wonder what you call it when your pics are used to make a catfish profile.
Although I watch the show faithfully, I also complain about it. I find myself screaming at Nev and Max (the show’s hosts and moderators) each time they use the word ‘relationship’ to describe a union between the folks featured on the show. I wouldn’t characterize that type of union or interaction as a relationship. But that’s just me. The word relationship has a specific, compartmented connotation to me. I don’t think you can call what these people have a relationship if you never met the person and in many instances never have even spoken on the phone. But they often refer to it that way. I think there is another word for it; however, relationship is definitely not accurate based on my world’s view
That brings me to my biggest opposition to Catfish. As I watch, I cannot believe there are such a large number of people who eagerly believe the person they are chatting with is real, particularly since all the participants have seen the show and have a gut feeling something isn’t quite right, a feeling that prompted them to write in to have Nev and Max try and bring them together with their mystery love interest – or more to the point, help them figure out if the person is really who they claim to be. Occasionally, it turns out that the person on the other end is authentic and they were mysterious because, as is the case with matters of the heart, they were just scared and apprehensive about meeting and being rejected. Fear of rejection is probably the reason many of them are afraid to meet. Sometimes it’s revenge, to get even with someone for some wrong they’ve caused. They asked one guy why he did it and he basically said, “well I’m here now so that’s what’s really important.” He didn’t go into what made him catfish his online friend. Most of them, though, end up being just as fake as everyone thought they were.
Its entertainment, yes. But I don’t believe they are really being duped. I think most of them are just pawns in the minds of the show’s writers to boost ratings. No one is that big of an imbecile, are they? I have had people whom I wanted, hoped, begged the angels to be real and genuine. If you interact with someone long enough, even if it’s all virtual, you can tell who is and who is not real. But there’s always a part of you that hopes that chameleon turns out to be exactly what your heart wants it to be. But deep down, you know it’s not real. At least I know that I do. I don’t need to message Nev and Max to help me figure out if this person is fake. I already know, and I’m sure those folks on the show know as well. Frankly, I’d be mighty darned ashamed and embarrassed for the whole world to see how big a fool I was. You think the participants get paid for their involvement in the show? I ask because, why else would anyone agree to be humiliated on television for all to see?
There are certainly telltale signs something is awry. First, the person always makes excuses why they cannot talk on the phone; they never are available for video chatting; and often after years of emailing/texting/online chatting they still have never met in person and seem unwilling to do so. I saw one episode when the guy was suspicious and he asked the girl with whom he was chatting to send him a picture facing left. She did. Then he later asked for a picture of her facing right. Then he asked for one looking up. He asked for various different poses like that to which she quickly obliged. She had such a large cache of the catfished pictures (pictures she stole from a model’s online portfolio), she could easily comply with all of his demands. She was a good, experienced catfisher. I don’t know how someone has the patience and time to keep up that charade. This went on for more than two years. I’m not the smartest grape in the bunch, but I’m no idiot either. I’m the type of person who wouldn’t let things go longer than six months without moving things along to the next level. This is one reason why I prefer to date from among my friends rather than via some app or online dating service.
I realize when you think you are in love – and when you believe someone loves you back, it’s an awesome feeling, and you may lose your brains in the process and make unwise decisions. I’ve lost my brain when I had those kind of feelings for someone, and I have done things I shouldn’t have done, I’ve done things I eternally regret. I’m still sorry for them today. I get that the prospect of love can make people behave foolishly. I have behaved foolishly. Isn’t there a limit, though? People ought to still have a gut feeling about things, and logic should ultimately prevail. It does with me, and I wake up and correct my own behavior. I don’t always wait for the wall to come tumbling down on my head before I wake up. Logic prevails with me. But noooooo. Not on Catfish. There’s no such thing as logic. This is why I believe this show is partly fake. I think the show is catfishing the people who watch it. But, c’est la vie. I still watch, and I’m still entertained by it.
The catfish concept isn’t particularly new, by the way. I was watching an episode of the Andy Griffith show (Season 2, Episode 9) about Floyd’s use of a dating service. He catfished a woman who was also catfishing him. Sanford and Son also tackled this topic when Fred went to a dating agency and fudged details when submitting a profile to get a date for Lamont (Season 4, Episode 2). Florence also experienced that on an episode of The Jeffersons (Season 6, Episode 9). None of the shows called it catfishing, though. But that’s precisely what it was by today’s connotation of catfishing. I’m sure this is something that has gone on since the beginning of time. I wonder if Adam and Eve did a little catfishing.