Here fishy fishy fishy

10 Jul
Image from Flickr Commons

Image from Flickr Commons

I am, somewhat guiltily, addicted to the MTV show Catfish. The guilt will pass however, because a number of friends have also found themselves sucked in, and it was one of them that pointed me to it in the first place.

If you’ve been living under a rock, Catfish are people who through social networking sites pretend to be someone other than who they really are. Most of the time they lurk on dating websites, forming internet based relationships with unsuspecting individuals, and stringing them along for years. On the programme two rather dashing young men (one of whom was supposedly catfished himself) seek to help folk find out the truth and come face to face with their possible catfish.

I’ve been online for some 16+ years now and in that time I’ve encountered catfish of various types. I’ve become adept at my basic research as a result, and probably a little over-cautious when it comes to venturing into the potential world of online dating, though I’ve met plenty of people in real life that I first encountered online, including a number of important and lasting friendships.

Its easy to be duped. It really doesn’t take much to build up a profile and to target an individual and ask them a few choice questions. I worry that someone like me might be a little too obvious a target at times because I am fairly frank and probably give away a little more than I realise through things like this blog.

On occasion friends have asked me to do a little background research for them, digging up the skinny on potential amorata – sussing out the deceptions in the stories. You do start to develop a knack for spotting the alarm bells.

But that hasn’t stopped me being duped along with the rest of them.

You do end up kicking yourself when it happens, and hardening your resolve for next time. It is, I have to say, only natural. I still have doubts about a couple of other online personalities I’ve been dealing with for years – particularly as the background research has run up against a brick wall pretty quickly. Maybe I’d be more anxious if I was telling them something known only to them, some intimate detail I couldn’t share elsewhere. I’ve certainly not been dumb enough to fall for sob stories and financial commitments.

There have been women I have ended up meeting who have been far removed from the person they claim to be in the virtual world. Though of course most of us will present our best image when dealing with new people – especially love interests. We all like to downplay our foibles, and big-up our positive assets. But sometimes the balance can be skewed to such extremes that the person is issuing a presentation of themselves far removed from reality.

When you’re modifying your relationship CV you need to think carefully about omissions and admissions – the lovers, illnesses, commitments and hangups that might otherwise impinge on the present and future.

That isn’t to say everyone that leaves a detail out is a catfish, but presenting yourself as something you aren’t is foolhardy and manipulative, and proffers a pretence which is bound to fail eventually.

Perhaps the most extreme catfish I encountered came about through professional channels. I spent several years working exhaustively on a project, going so far as to bring other people on board too, before I discovered that the project facilitator had created a complicated web of deceit that is still being unravelled.

Not only were the deceits around the (then) current project becoming apparent, but the diabolical fiend had, I discovered, been catfishing me for several years under other aliases and pretences. Tracks had been covered in public, but I maintained private records of conversations and emails which laid bare the duplicity. My involvement was brought to a swift close, but the emotional impact resonated further. Something I’d pinned a great deal of time and effort in had become worthless, other opportunities I had passed over in preference for this had slipped me by, and my trust had been utterly eradicated.

How can an intelligent man like me be taken in by someone like that?

A question I ask myself repeatedly, especially now I realise I’ve been burned more than once. It comes down I guess to needing to trust people – one can’t hold out suspicion of everyone all the time, but in giving myself over to trust there comes a time when you can be taken advantage of. In this instance as with others, I had done a rudimentary background check before leaping into bed, but because of the nature of the catfish was missing a key detail which later came to light. As I say, eventually the deception reveals itself and if you pay attention will swiftly collapse.

In my experience the catfish doesn’t admit their deceptions even when presented with evidence to the contrary, and if they do will simply blame someone/something else as being responsible for it. They’ll keep on lying and creating new lies in order to win you back over to their side, and if you really don’t budge they’ll move on to the next one.

Its perhaps the hardest thing I find in the current run of Catfish on MTV – too many of these couples remain in contact after the truth is outed. Like a screwed up relationship built on abuse, they are drawn back in and played once again.

Swim away little fish, swim away.



One Response to “Here fishy fishy fishy”

  1. tenderlytina July 12, 2014 at 3:14 am #

    You’re right, one must do their homework and use wisdom when dealing with strangers. I think I’d rather be played a thousand times over than lose my ability to trust. The players don’t get to take my trusting nature away from me. I’m not looking for romance and I guess that makes it easier to just be me when I’m online. I’ve made some good friends online and carried that into offline too and that’s impossible to do without honesty in both areas.

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