'Catfish': The Problems of Self-Presentation in Online Dating
Online dating can be taken too far with this trending deceptive activity.
- For this project, I wanted to explore the issues that online dating carry from a person shaping their self-presentation. Since there's so much potential in misunderstandings over online, it's critical to understand that these things will often occur in online dating. Online dating consists of a complex process of reading signals and deconstructing cues. Catfishing, coined by the producer of the documentary film and TV show called 'Catfish', Nev Schulman, means to create fake profiles or a fake identity through social media sites to trick people. Catfishing is one of the biggest problems online, caused from managing impressions through self-presentation. As a frequent Internet user, I know that online dating is prominent among other internet users, in fact 53% of Internet users believe that online dating can be a good way of finding someone with shared interests. What does this mean? A LOT of Internet users are put in a vulnerable situation to run into a catfish.
How To Tell Who is a Catfish
- Having to spot a Catfish can be quite difficult especially when you are talking to someone who you perceive to be one. When you suspect that someone may be ripping you off with an identity while communicating with you, you have to look out for some signs. According to Us.DitchtheLabel.org, Here are some signs how you may be able to tell:
- 1. Do some reverse image search on Google: You can right click on their image or copy the URL and examine the link of the image. It will also lead you to other sources of where the picture is coming from. Instagram images are trickier since they won't be indexed on search engines but dating sites like Tinder and Grindr can be possible with an app call Veracity.
- 2. Google them. Google their name and see what comes up. Maybe their real profile? Determine what is credible.
- 3. Is money or gift giving involved? You may honestly be stuck in a trap and may hear from the person you're talking to asking you for money or gifts for some excuse that you might empathize with. If you haven't met the person in person or really gotten to know them on a personal level, do NOT trust giving them money.
- 4. Check their check-ins, their posts, their friends, and photos. You should really study who this person is and be aware of what location their posts are coming from. Check around and see who their friends are and who is in their photos or what you may feel be off with their photos. See if they are even tagged in friends' photos.
- 5. See if their story adds up. If something just feels completely off, trust your gut instinct. If there are stories that have information that is conflicting, it may indicate that these are lies after another.
- 6. Check their typing. If their typing differs from one app to another, you might probably question it.
Why Do People Become a Catfish?
- Many people, especially on social media, have an ideal self. An ideal self is the self-presentation of who you want to be or a future version of yourself. Research studies have found that when someone is expected to meet a potential dating partner for the first time, a person may alter their self-presentational behavior. There are people that don't know what to self-disclose and the tension between authenticity and impression management are given. People may feel they don't want to reveal their true self in able to achieve the intimacy with their potential dating partner. On a survey from an online dating site's participants, 86% felt others have misrepresented their physical appearances -- that is A LOT of people with this gut instinct. For online deception to be prevented, the design of a medium can discourage lying behaviors as well as recorded or 'real time' media. Any chosen medium can affect communication. (Ellison, et al., 2006)
One of the complications of Catfishing: Harassment
- Since catfishing is usually known for stealing the photos of others, some of these can be considered forms of harassment. It's not ethical to take photos of others and pose as that person but it's more worrisome when harassment is followed after. For example, the girl from the post above have had her photos from Instagram taken and were posted onto a sex page. This is a form of catfishing, even if online dating isn't involved. When online dating is involved, harassment may come from stalking or some type of event that will cause emotional distress on a person from their potential partner.
When Catfishing Becomes a Problem in Someone's Personal Life
- Catfishing can very problematic to the person who is playing this act of deception on another. It can be kept secretive to the person who is catfishing. In a few episodes of the MTV TV show Catfish, some people who did it was still in a relationship with their boyfriend or girlfriend while seeking other potential partners through catfishing. It can also cause as much damage as an arrest. In a well known story in the media, 33 years old Shelly Cartier posed as the NBA star Chris Andersen to create a fake online relationship with 17 years old Paris Dunn. She blackmailed her nude photos to her and even posed as the girl's mother. She pleaded to seven counts of fraud and was sent to prison in 2015.
Is Catfishing Always Bad?
- Most of the time, it is, but those who are into catfishing is actually mostly only looking for online relationships and those who want a face-to-face relationship tend to be more honest. Even though, catfishing doesn't really cause physical harm, the psychological harm is prominent. In some rare situations, it is dangerous and contains negative consequences, but most people consider catfishing as a form of entertainment or a prank and it helps people to explore someone's identity. (Coen, 2015)
How to Spot a Catfish > Ditch the Label. (2017, September 28). How to Spot a Catfish. Retrieved December 02, 2017, from https://us.ditchthelabel.org/how-to-spot-a-catfish/ …
Ellison, N., Heino, R., Gibbs, J. (2006) Managing Impressions Online: Self-Presentation Processes in the Online Dating Environment. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 11, 415–441.
Coen, S. (2017, December 01). Not all online catfish are bad, but strong communities can net the ones that are. Retrieved December 03, 2017, from https://theconversation.com/not-all-online-catfish-are-bad-but-strong-communities-can-net-the-ones-that-are-47981 …