Why do people still get Catfished even though it’s so easy to avoid?


With his documentary film and MTV television show Nev Schulman and his production teams have shone a light on a new problem for our technologically advanced age: “Catfishing,” or entering into a romantic relationship with someone online while pretending to be someone that you’re not. If you’re chatting with someone online, there’s a simple solution to see if they’re who they say they are. If you absolutely cannot meet up with them, you can video chat. This capability wasn’t as widely available a few years ago, but now that webcams and cellphone cams are so prevalent, it’s no longer an excuse. If your online professional crush says they can’t afford any sort of camera on their model salary, they probably know someone who does and would let them use it for a few minutes. Getting Catfished is so easy to avoid, and even more so now that the TV show Catfish is so popular, probably making many people face the truths of their online relationships that they’ve been trying to avoid. So why does Catfishing still happen?

The answer lies somewhere in the complicated and contradictory world of human psychology, and our enduring desires for acceptance and love. In real life, people often live in denial when the truth is staring them in the face, so it shouldn’t come to much of a surprise that people will live in denial online, where it’s even easier to hide.

When asked why catfishing still happen on the reunion special, the show’s stars Max Joseph and Nev Schulman gave some insight:

Max: I think people want to fall in love. They will ignore red flags and clear signs that someone is not who they say they are in hope that they are meeting the love of their life because there’s something about the internet that ‘What are the chances that someone, somewhere across the world that you never grew up with that doesn’t live near you is the perfect match for you. I think that there’s this romance that we see that people share.

Nev: I mean look, finding love in real life is difficult and I think we all want that fairytale Lauren and Derek ending and if it can find you on the internet then you’ve got to go for it.

People want to believe, and most of the time Nev and Max aren’t doing anything revolutionary with their Googling and Facebook sleuthing, they’re mostly there to guide the person who’s being catfished through a taxing emotional situation. They’re there more to make the person face the truth more than they are there to find it in the first place.

Catfish is an intriguing show not only because of the anticipation of the big reveal at the end that usually ends in an awkward confrontation, and sometimes ends in true love, but also because it delves into some complicated truths.

It’s bitterly uncomfortable when the Catfish turns out to be closer to what was presented online than anticipated, but they just aren’t as physically attractive as the person who got hooked had hoped. The catfish is rightfully scolded for lying, but even if the two of them had a lovely and deep friendship, and even a pretty serious romance online, the wind is sucked out of it not only because of the lies, but because of the physical appearance of the catfish. People who are considered beautiful based on their culture’s norms are treated differently than those who don’t quit fit the bill, and that’s a painful truth, but one that can often be ignored, except when you’re watching Catfish. Granted, that’s not the only scenario that happens on Catfish, and each scenario is unique and complicated, but it’s a common theme that runs through many of the episodes.

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