“A catfish is someone who pretends to be someone they’re not using Facebook or other Social Media to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances.”
Now a MTV television series, filmed by Yaniv “Nev” Schulman whose own online love drama was the subject of the original film. He and fellow filmmaker Max Joseph now travel all over the USA to tell stories of these hopeful online romantics who meet in real life for the first time…more often than not some are met with shocking revelations.
In today’s fast-paced digital world where most of us are plugged in, logged on 24/7, time becomes a rare commodity more precious than gold.
Many new millennials are keen entrepreneurs, which leaves very little free time to none at all. This doesn’t bode so well for the love life. So how do singletons in the new millennia find their ‘soulmate’ without wasting time?
The answer may seem surprisingly simple, but gets a little more complicated as we go along.
Thanks to websites such as eharmony.com, match.com, Tinder app and countless others, why waste your time with endless dates to find out if you’re compatible when you can just login and after a few swipes left or right your “dream” match is at your fingertips?….or is he/she?
There have been a few matches made in (online) heaven – hurrah for them! But let’s get real for a minute the majority of people hooking up online do not end in happily ever afters.
It’s human nature to preserve the ego and what better way to make oneself appear to be the ideal mate/lover than from the comfort of behind your own computer screen?
No one knows who you really are in cyberspace right? So if you could be anyone you wanted to be, why not choose to be the perfect mate? Whether it’s a super fit, toned, bronze, tall, perfectly white Chiclettoothed hero or a blonde bombshell with the perfect 363436…No one’s going to know that your gym membership expired a decade ago and the closest you’ve gotten to sports is watching Wimbledon from the comfort of your armchair.
Naturally, it all starts with playful banter and a few witty posts. Likes on every picture you post, flirtatious innuendos soon follow and then the conversation swiftly moves offline to whatsapp or sms.
Depending on the individual’s need for the next fix of attention from their cyber infatuation, these lines of communication can rapidly progress to phone calls.
You rack up the phone bill whilst having endless discussions of the sun, moon, stars and everything in between. This has got to be ‘The One’. You inevitably share your secrets, desires and maybe a nudie pic or two.
If you’re lucky you may get a skype video call here or there, but the true catfish never ever reveal their true identity and will leave you dangling on a wickedly tempting string…always wanting more.
Here’s the catch, after a period of time you decide you want to meet Mr X or Miss Z and attempt to set up an actual real-life, in-the-flesh date.
You thank your lucky stars that at last they agree to meet with you. You set up a date or meeting time, but predictably the person of your dreams at the last minute cannot meet due to family emergency/car broke down/ world falling apart …you take your pick from any of the countless excuses.
All the while knowing that should you actually meet in person, that 1.7m blonde haired blue eyed Nordic prince charming whom you’ve shown your tatas to is none other than your geeky 15 year old teenage neighbour with braces. Who wouldn’t actually even know what to do with your tatas should he be so lucky to even see them in real life!
A past flame was really witty and enigmatic on Twitter, in real life he was no player at all but rather an awkward introvert.
Now I know this might sound clichéd to some, but I’m the kind of person who falls in love with the mind and not a person’s physical appearance. If you don’t believe me just take a look at my track record, they were not all lookers but they were perfect in my eyes.
I travelled halfway round the world once to visit a myspace crush only to find he wasn’t exactly as I had imagined. His profile picture was several years old for starters, but he was a perfect gentleman and to this day we remain good friends.
Online romances always seem so much more mysterious and exciting, where you can imagine any number of things about your would be future partner.
Alas, they do not always meet your far away expectations and leave you disillusioned and jaded instead.
I have forged firm friendships spanning a decade from the days of Myspace, crossing over to Facebook and now eventually Twitter.
In Cape Town I’ve met several bloggers, Twitter pals and Instagram friends in person and thank goodness they’ve all turned out to be exactly who they said they are…no psycho killers or creepy peeping toms.
As a busy singleton in my 30s it’s very tempting to log on to Tinder and find my “dream” date at the touch of a button. But the inner paranoid cynic inside my head screams loudly to heed the warning signs.
Does that mean I’m going to stop chatting to the charming, older guy with the handsome mug on Facebook (oh Lord I hope that profile picture is real)? Probably not.
It just means I am going to be wary of letting my feelings run away with me until we’ve met for real in a well lit public place. Safety first ladies ;)
Now don’t get me wrong, not all people who go online to seek love are false some of them are just as real as you or I.
I just don’t think I’ll be signing up to Tinder or any match sites anytime soon. I’m not in any hurry to find ‘anyone’, but if they find me…well that’s an entirely different story.
In the end, ladies, whether you’re looking for Mr Right or Mr Right Now, via the online romance route, don’t get catfished and don’t say I didn’t warn you ;)
By Jacqui Cooks