Behind the ‘Catfish’

Amanda H.

Staff Writer
Catfish1Many people use the internet to connect with others, with over 700 billion minutes spent on Facebook each month. Although the internet can be a very resourceful tool for many, it can also be a hindrance for some. There are numerous possible negative effects of using the internet, one of which is being duped by fake profilers. Those who use fake profiles are usually known as catfish, which is when someone pretends to be someone else by using Facebook or other social media to create false identities. Urban dictionary defines catfish as “typically refer to an ugly person or ‘bottom–feeder’ who pretends to be someone they are not using social media.” This idea, which seems somewhat far-fetched, surprisingly has happened too many times in the real world, and it is now showcased on the MTV reality show by the same name, Catfish.
Many wonder where the term catfish actually came from. There was an old tale about how live codfish were shipped from Alaska to China in vats. In order to keep the cod’s flesh from getting mushy, someone came up with the idea of putting catfish in the vats to “keep the cod agile.” This relates to life in that there are people in the world who are catfish in the society – they keep everyone guessing, they keep people thinking, and they keep everything new.
Recently many saw Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o’s life unravel when he was tricked by a man pretending to be a woman named Lennay Kekua. Te’o and Kekua had a long distance relationship, keeping in touch through Facebook and phone calls. This fiasco all started when Ronaiah Tuiasosopo Catfish2created a Facebook profile his freshman year at Notre Dame as Lennay Kekua. He created Kekua using photos he copied from a high school classmate’s profile, which made the profile appear legitimate. Te’o and Kekua then would have phone calls where Tuisasosopo would talk in a woman’s voice, supposedly sounding like Kekua, which was later confirmed by Dr. Phil when he did a voice recognition test. Te’o thought this was the woman of his dreams, until Tuiasosopo killed Kekua off, saying she had died of leukemia. As soon as the media discovered the devastating news of the death of Te’o’s girlfriend, it went viral, causing Tuiasosopo to start having second thoughts, and he eventually he told the media that Kekua was a hoax. “When I heard what had happened to Te’o, I was pretty shocked because I didn’t understand how someone could do something like that and get away with it for so long, especially with such a well-known figure,” senior Anslee Broome said. Producer Nev Schulman, who is known for his documentaries, reached out to Tuiasosopo on Twitter, saying that he wanted to help with his situation because he has had experience with being duped by someone he thought he loved.

Schulman started the catfish phenomenon and is the producer of the movie Catfish and the current MTV show, Catfish: the TV Show. The movie all started when Schulman wanted to meet his Facebook love, Megan. He began talking to Megan and fell head over heels in love with her over Facebook. This all started because Megan had a daughter, who Schulman bought paintings from. This all ended up being a lie, for the mother ended up being Angela Wesselman and made up the whole story about having a daughter who sold Schulman pieces of her art. Schulman and his friend made sure to catch it all on video when he went to meet Megan for the first time in person, which inspired Schulman to help other people around him who are in the same situation as he was. He created Catfish: the TV Show where young adults sign up to meet their social media love for the first time with the help of Schulman.

Catfish3
Schulman not only helps those on his show, but he also brings guidance to his viewers by teaching tips to keep away from being a catfish victim. Through his show, viewers see that it is probably best to stray away from those in the modeling profession, the Facebook profiles, the traumatic injuries, the no pictures, and the no webcam. These are some of the many different ways people fool others into believing that the fake profiles are real.
Catfish has been seen various times over the years in the media and in the real world, in many different situations, but it ultimately comes down to one thing: someone pretending to be someone else. People end up broken-hearted during this process, and hopefully by the countless number of individuals coming out in the open about the effects of catfish, either being the catfish or being hoaxed by one, people in the world will learn that being themselves is the most important thing of all.

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