But apparently, all this evidence against online dating is not enough to stand up to those few fleeting fairytales you hear about a friend of a friend who met the love of their life on Match.com or to everyone's fear of being alone. And because of that we have catfishing.
Cat·fish [kat-fish] verb: To pretend to be someone you're not online by posting false information, such as someone else's pictures, on social media sites, usually with the intention of getting someone to fall in love with you.
The term Catfish itself, stems from a 2010 documentary film about this phenomena. In the film, someone explains that when live cod were shipped to Asia from North America, the fish's inactivity in their tanks resulted in mushy flesh, but fishermen found that putting catfish in the tanks with the cod kept them active. He explains that people who do things like this on the internet are "catfish", who keep other people active in life.
I first heard the term catfish at Thanksgiving at a friend's house. His boyfriend was telling a story about a flirtation from back in the day over AOL messenger with someone who claimed to be a professional athlete, but turned out to be a popcorn seller at the sports arena. He then was talking about the film and the MTV reality show that had started following hilarious and often tragic stories of people who are involved in a committed relationship online who they have never even met and of course it is all predicated on a lie. Like they say in that hilarious insurance commercial says-they can't put anything on the internet that's not true.
So back to catfishing........if you had not heard that term yet, most likely you have today as news is hitting that popular college football star Manti Te'o who is a linebacker for Notre Dame and a runner-up for the Heisman Trophy. Now, keep in mind, sports are the one reality tv I won't watch, so I'm just hearing of Te'o today. But apparently, the young athlete got a lot of attention for his great playing and sympathy for the sob story in September that he had lost his grandmother and his girlfriend within six hours of each other. Tragic. But not true. The grandmother part is. But this girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, who was a Stanford graduate who was in a car accident and then subsequently diagnosed with leukemia, is apparently as real as Lindsay Lohan's lips aka fake. There is no documentation to be found on Kekua's life, death, funeral, attendance at Stanford, and she didn't exist on the internet. All the pictures of her are of some other girl. Classic catfish.
So now it's all about whether Te'o knew about this hoax or not. He came forward with a genuine-enough sounding statement saying,
It has been alleged that a friend of his, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, may be at the heart of this relationship scandal, but how could this complicated ruse go on for so long?And how will this affect the career of a promising athlete? I already am hearing great jokes like, "now instead of Tebowing, you can Te'o by putting your arm around your fake girlfriend."
I think that it will be interesting to see what becomes of this and how, if at all, this catfishing will cause us to re-evaluate relationships on the internet. Not to say I told you so, but hopefully more people will come to realize that the internet is an excellent place for people to live a life of illusion. But maybe the benefit of this is that Chris Hansen and his hilarioius smug interviews will be back to protect and educate us all with an awesome new Dateline series of "To Catch a Catfish."