Tuesday, 05 April, 2016 @ 09:00
Catfish, catfished, catfishing... our case manager Mairwynne explains what it's all about.
Over the past decade internet and technology have enabled communication like never before. But along with this have come more sinister trends - for example, the catfish.
The term was popularised in 2010 by a film crew in America, one of whom had struck up an online relationship with what he thought to be a young, attractive female from another state.
They spoke for months and he even talked to various members of (what he thought) were her family, but slowly the lie began to unravel and the dots weren’t connecting as they should.
After travelling across the country to finally meet the lady behind the messages, he was met with the reality of a married, 40-something housewife, who was caring for two disabled sons. However odd or horrifying this might seem, this is not an uncommon situation. But why do people catfish?
As the terminology and also the phenomenon are a fairly recent occurrence, there has been little research into this field. But what research there is suggests that there is a positive correlation between increased internet usage and loneliness.
Those that convey themselves as someone else online are often looking to bridge a gap which has appeared elsewhere in their lives; be it in terms of self-confidence, social life, or a lack of hobbies.
Although at first glance the natural instinct may be to feel empathy for the catfishes’ situation (i.e. the self-conscious individual reaching out on a platform to feel some sort of social connection) we also must remember the consequences of their actions on individuals who have taken everything they’ve been told at face value. These fake identities become engrained into their everyday lives and they become emotionally attached.
Often when a catfish is discovered, clients are baffled about how this could ever happen to them. But the truth is, in my personal experience, there is no stereotypical “type” of person who is ensnared. I have come across everything from the most obvious catfish i.e. 1 photo and 3 friends on a profile (one of which was the client), through to the most intricate infrastructure of lies, which had been orchestrated without fumble or fail for two whole years.
The catfish phenomenon is growing, but so is awareness of how to expose imposters. Keep your eyes peeled for our Ask Jodie blog on ways that you can safe-guard yourself against being a victim of cat-fishing.
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