Although it seems like “Catfish” is a new phenomenon it really has been going on since the beginning of the internet. Catfishing or being Catfished is when a person claims to be someone or something that they are not while on social media. Most people think about being Catfished in terms of romance but in 1983 Van Gelder wrote an article “The Strange Case of the Electronic Lover.”
Although the title says electronic lover it wasn’t exactly about someone trying to get romantically involved with someone by using lies. It was more about a male psychiatrist trying to get the full experience as a woman online where no one could see what he looked like. There was still plenty of deception in how he got people to open up to him by making them believe he was a mute and paralyzed woman who was making a difference even with her struggles.
Now fast forward to today and being Catfished is the topic of plenty of conversations. No one wants to be Catfished, and with all technology we find it crazy that it is even possible. One of the biggest Catfish storied happen this year and involved Notre Dame football player Manti Te’o. He entered into a relationship with a woman that lead him to believe that she had leukemia and ultimately died from the decease. Come to find out this was all a hoax and the girl that he had been communicating with for four months straight didn’t actually exist.
One might ask “How does such a huge deception like this happen when there is Skype, and Facetime?” and that is a great question. How does this happen when there are so many different ways to “see” the person you are talking to. We tend to direct these questions toward the deceiver, but maybe it would be just as good a question for the deceived. Are the deceived putting entirely too much trust and faith in the internet? Based on the popularity and many people on the show “Catfish” we might be lead to believe that they are.
Another question that we might ask, “is it alright that people use the internet as a means to escape from their everyday lives?” At times it seems we take the internet so seriously that we get upset when someone deceives us, but are they in the wrong? Who said the internet had to be serious and that one couldn’t use it as a means to escape from their everyday life?