Catfish: The Problem With Online Dating

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We yearn for connection, but I feel like in the digital age, we look for it in the wrong places. Nothing can ever measure up to the emotions you experience when you meet someone in person. Digital devices can never truly replicate feeling someone’s presence, seeing their body language, and hearing the way they talk to you.

A documentary entitled Catfish has brought light to this dilemma. It follows Nev Schulman, a 20-something photographer/producer, as he develops a long-term online relationship with a woman he has never met. With will and determination, he discovers that she was actually a 40-something year-old woman who used the identity of a 20-something woman she has never met herself. These conniving people are called “Catfish,” inspired by an allegorical story told at the end of the documentary. It soon spun off into its own series on MTV where Nev helps others who are in the same predicament with their online relationships.

For most of these people that Nev helps in the shows, the “victims,” go through an average of 1+ years corresponding with their Catfish. Apparently all their efforts to meet up with this person were to no avail. Not even a video chat! Surprisingly, they don’t give up.

Now if this were to happen with say a close friend or someone you’ve been dating (in person) for a while, most of us would just say “c’est la vie”. If they’re not willing to fight for the relationship and make time to see us the same way we are willing to, we end up letting them go and moving on with our lives.

As fishy as it already sounds, most of these people who are being duped know this but they push it to the back of their head. They douse themselves with hope because they’re afraid to face what might be the truth. Avoiding the truth is usually the root of a lot of our problems in life.

So they seek Nev’s help to find the “love of their life”. He manages to track this person down and reveal their true identity by the end of the episode. The most amusing part of it all is that he has no special FBI tracking equipment or anything. He just uses his internet-stalker skills that most of us internet-savvy people with social networks have at our disposal. He ends up finding out more about the Catfish over the span of a week than this person ever did in the 1+ years of their correspondences.

The problem with nurturing a relationship online with someone whom you have never met before is the ability we have to create any identity we wish. Just take a look at our own social profiles. We choose what we want to post on our profiles, thus creating the identity we want others to see. So the possibilities are daunting and as sad as it sounds, you can’t always trust people, let alone people on the internet.

Besides Nev’s internet skills, the best thing about the show is not only the showcasing of online dating best practices, but the significance of confronting people—most importantly, yourself.

It sickens me that there are people out there with such sadistic minds to mess with something as precious as a person’s emotions. Some of these Catfish go as far as lying about being in fatal accidents or having cancer. No pun intended, but that’s sick.

But it takes two. The other person let this happen to them. They should’ve known what can happen when you decide to nurture a relationship online. As stated in previous blogs, we should only use online communication to supplement our relationships– be it a friend, family, or a partner.

If you ask me, I would not date online at all. I see commercials for dating sites like eHarmony and it seems the people who use it are too busy to find love. If I ever find myself not having time to at least meet other people, I may want to reevaluate how I’m spending my time.

Relationships and love are already perplex. Using digital media has and can complicate it even more. Although digital devices can connect you to someone, you should always strive for a personal connection. The most real connection you can ever experience is in person. Most importantly, your emotions are precious things that shouldn’t be messed with. So be careful of where you invest your emotions in this life.

About Ronnell Morris

Ronnell is the Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of NWYT. She is a copywriter by day, a performer by night, and a triathlete by weekend. She loves Disney, musicals, eating, YouTube videos, list-making, and the colors pink and gray too much for her own good. See All of Ronnell's Posts

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