Have you been catfished, or do you know someone who has? It's an interesting dilemma of online dating. For those who have never heard the term, it was coined by the 2010 documentary film Catfish. Catfishing is basically an online dating scam where someone presents themselves to be someone they're not. Sometimes it's for vengeful reasons, and other times it's because of insecurities. I'm sure there's a whole bunch of other reasons thrown in there too, where a lie just gets carried away.
The original Catfish documentary was about Nev, who became involved in a romantic relationship with a woman on Facebook. Over the course of nine months of online correspondence with this woman, and making friends with her family online, Nev finally drives out to meet her and realizes the person he thought he was speaking with was a fake. The young, artistic woman he thought he had fallen in love with was actually an older woman who Nev thought was his online girlfriend's mom. Not only that, but the whole family he thought he had been speaking to online was also this very same older woman who ran several Facebook accounts. While some have claimed the documentary to be a hoax, it did so well that a TV show was spun off of it with Nev helping others to find out if they've been catfished with their own online relationships.
It's this tv show that presents an interesting question. How many of us have heard from the time we're young that looks don't matter? How often do we hear that a person's financial status isn't important and that it's who we are as people that matters? Yet, for the majority of these Catfish episodes we see that they obviously do matter, often times to a larger extent than who we are as people. How else do you explain someone fawning over how great someone is, how they've been their through such tough times for them, only to have the relationship almost become non-existent once they see the person is heavier or not as attractive as they originally thought.
We hear from the online fakers that everything they said they felt was honest and from the heart. The only thing that wasn't real was the picture they used, or maybe what they did for a living. Yet in every episode I've seen, that part that we're told is important didn't seem to matter. In many cases the faker explains about how willing people were to talk to them when they did use the fake pic of an attractive person.
It'd be one thing if the feeling was that the fakers were using their victims for financial gain or some other nefarious reason like nude pictures, as a few of the episodes showed. In many cases though, before the victim knows about the dupe, they go on about how the person was there for them and what a great connection they have, or how they consider the faker a best friend. Put simply, the victims describe the actions of the faker in exactly the same way that we're told of the qualities we should be looking for in a friend or lover. Someone who genuinely seems to care and takes the time to make a person feel like they matter.
Yet, upon every meeting when they finally see that the person they've met doesn't look like the model in the pictures they were shown, the relationship ends. The victim usually refers to a lack of honesty and trust issues as the reason for the relationship ending or dying down. Is that really the case though?
Up until they see the faker in person, they can't say enough nice things about them. It's not until they see that the body and face of a model that was presented to them isn't actually who they've been talking to that their interest fades away. Their attraction literally disappears the moment they realize the person isn't a perfect 10 on the dating scale when it comes to looks.
Which begs me to ask the one question I think we all might be curious about. What if the person they met was on a similar attraction scale as the person in the picture? Let's say they used a fake profile picture, but the faker actually still looked like a model, just not the one in the picture. My bet is those victims would have continued to try to make that relationship work.
Honestly, I'd love to see a version of this show with a slightly different take. I think it'd be interesting to see what would happen if the person wasn't the one in the pic, but was still model like in appearance. I bet the outcome would be completely different in the follow up a few months later, that the victims would still be taking time to talk consistently with the faker, and that there would be a strong attempt to make the relationship work.
Maybe it's time we admit that what we're told growing up isn't necessarily the truth, that looks and financial success mean far more than we care to admit when it comes to dating. Even in the world of work, studies have shown a level of attractiveness can be a large benefit in terms of financial rewards. What does this say about us as people?
What do you think? Would the outcome of these catfish stories be different if the person using fake pictures was almost, or just as attractive, as the male or female in the picture? Or is honesty really the reason these hot and heavy couples saw their flame die out? Let us know in the comments below!