After talking to a guy online you finally decide it’s time to meet. You set the time and location. When the magic moment comes and the guy you’ve been talking to arrives, you suddenly think to yourself, ‘wait, this isn’t the guy that I was talking to online,’ as you start at a guy who it at least 10 years older and 40lbs heavier than in the pictures he sent to you online. You just got catfished!
Catfishing is when an online user misrepresents him or herself, or assumes a false identity to mislead others. It is this fake or false façade that is used for romantic, personal, or financial gain. Typically, the user will only communicate online, and not usually meet up in person; however, it is not uncommon for guys to meet others and to be completed deceived by who shows up.
The term catfished gained pop culture significance after an MTV special with the same name aired involving an online romance a man realized was probably fake and cameras followed him as he exposed the truth. In real life, catfishing sucks. If you’ve ever been catfished, you realize it isn’t fun to be lied to and have someone using a photo, name, id, or life that doesn’t belong to them and lying, passing it off as their own.
With the Internet, it is possible to have friends or followers that you’ve never met in person. Unless you’ve met in real life, face-to-face, there is no guarantee that any of these people aren’t what or who they say they are. In an era when many people project the image of themselves they want seen onto their social media, the line between real and exaggerated reality can easily be blurred.
If you ever felt the desire to catfish someone, don’t. It isn’t fair and it is cruel to make someone think there is someone out there that doesn’t actually exist. In some states, knowingly, fraudulently presenting yourself to be someone else is a crime that can be punished with fines and jail time. More importantly, it’s just not cool to lie and lead someone on.
If you feel like you are getting catfished, stop engaging with the person immediately or demand to see some kind of identification from the person. If they cannot present proper identification of themselves, then they are most likely lying. Before meeting up with someone, ask for multiple face pictures and the dates that they were taken. It is one method to reduce your risk of being catfished. Seeing multiple clear and full-size photos can help determine if the person is legitimate. If they only send blurred, distorted, grainy, or dark photos, there is a higher probability that you are about to be deceived, even if they are discrete.
If you have come across someone who has catfished you, discontinue communication with them and to report them to the proper channels online and if authorities need to be, as well. The chances of them pretending to be someone else in other aspects may be present when dealing with catfishing. The least you can do is help prevent them doing the same thing to someone else.