WHY WE SHOULD NO LONGER CARE ABOUT CATFISH
According to the lovely innanet, the term catfish means, “to lure (someone) into a relationship by means of a fictional online persona.” At least that is the formal definition. Urban dictionary, however, adds on to that by stating that catfishing is: “to give the impression of being an attractive person in order to attract someone online while being a complete near or opposite of that portrayed.” Sounds like a pretty crappy thing to do to someone nah? It is also important to remember that catfishing is fairly recent and we can thank the innanet and the rise of social media for that.
In my young twenty-two years of being alive, I do not recall ever hearing stories like this until just six or seven years ago. In the good ol’ days, you were most likely to form relationships based off proximity. This meant that you could count on your suitor to be exactly who he presented himself to be, well, at least physically. These days, with platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, it is easier to spot a nice piece of ass and even get in touch with them; no matter the distance (will the real thirst champs please stand up). Now I imagine our parents would’ve done some real damage with this back in the 70s, but instead, they had to settle for thigh high boots, bell bottoms, and a shit ton of jheri curl juice (see Coming To America).
Most of us were not aware of a catfish or catfishing until the platform that was once known for promoting music and music only, MTV, released CatFish: The TV Show. For those completely ignorant of pop culture and likely to be the potential victims of a catfish, the show stars Nev Schulman and the guy who always has a fake camera in hand (and whom I believed to be Nev’s partner for the longest), Max Joseph. The show is pretty simple; Nev and Max receive emails from thousands of people who strike up online relationships with people they have fallen in love with and vice versa. Only problem is, our hopeless romantics, for all the time and effort they put into these relationships, have never met their partners. At this point if you want to discontinue reading this piece, I don’t blame you. Matter of fact, I applaud you. I guess the obvious red flags of dating someone you’ve never even seen before is not enough for our victims, they are also apt to doing things such as sending these people gifts, sometimes even money. You could not get me to date anyone if they even make the mistake of having a username I don’t agree with. Yet for whatever reason, our lovers remain hopeful. And so, in come Nev and Max to the rescue to help our hopefuls connect with their true loves at last.
Nev and Max read through the emails and select one each episode. They then contact that person and ultimately fly down to wherever the victim of the week lives to begin the hunt. For the longest time I watched each episode with nothing but admiration for those two guys. I am always prepared to buy a drink for anyone willing to have that much patience with people who utilize zero common sense when it comes to dating, and thus spend hundreds of dollars to help these same individuals figure out situations that 90% of the audience already knows will not have a happy ending (sighs). Then again, it is worth noting that Catfish Avenger, Nev Schulman himself, was once the victim of a catfish. The entire MTV series is based off the 2010 documentary titled Catfish that followed Nev’s experience of being duped by a woman he’d never met. After the King of the Duped went through this, he then set out on a mission to expose catfishers everywhere and thus bring justice to every dumbass who dared not ask for physical confirmation from the person they were chatting up. Thank you Nev, I sleep so much better now.
The problem with a show like this is that it can only entertain for so long until viewers lose interest. I certainly did after the third episode. However, they are now on their sixth season. Which leads me to believe that there are people out there still following this. Who knows, maybe catfishers themselves watch to get a step ahead now that we’re onto them. Or, and I could be wrong, this is MTV playing off the naiveté of its victims. Either way, the world may never know.
Now, this past Monday night I was going through my usual routine of mindlessly scrolling through memes online when I came across a video of the most recent episode of catfish and for whatever reason decided to watch. I watched a grown ass man (clearly into other men) catfish some dude wearing a polo shirt four sizes too small for him (I didn’t realize we were still on that wave). Homeboy went under the guise of a woman named “Rosa” who looks a lot like Fetty Wap’s latest baby mama, Masika Kalysha.
So yes, if you’re into reality TV stars who are upcoming ‘rappers’ or ‘singers’ and funded by build-a-body-for-profit dot com, then I understand the allure. The one thing that made this episode stand out was that ‘Rosa’ put up this guise all on his/her own. I mean ol boy didn’t even have the decency to call up a girlfriend and have her voice the phone calls. Issa tew much for him. He opted for disguising his voice as a very convincing twenty-something year old female and rode it til the wheels came off. And off they did. It was at this point that I allowed myself to have a good laugh, and not just any laugh. I’m talking about the Pillsbury Doughboy kind of laugh that makes your cheeks warm. The kind of laugh I had in that dark movie theatre when I saw ‘Grandpa’ running towards Chris in Get Out (big-ups to Jordan Peele).
Y’all can call me mean and heartless but I am beyond that, I promise you I am. I now live to see this kind of thing. I liken it to every scary movie where we see white people get a warning about ghosts and goblins living in a century old house, and yet still happily move in with their husband Billy; the three kids — Sally, Becky, and Hunter; and their lovely lab Max. It’s expected and so it warrants zero emotion. And so at this point, I am far removed from the people who are still being played by fake online personas. In this day of Snapchat and FaceTime and that ol’ thing called common sense, if you wanna live your life on the edge and take long walks on the wild side, far be it from me to interfere. In fact, I encourage all the Catfishermen and women of the world to continue the good fight. Y’all put smiles on my face. And as for Catfish Avenger himself Nev, please keep cashing in. You lost my respect when you tweeted a while back that the majority of people who catfish are black women, but you gained it back when I realized that these people are single-handily funding your love of butt plugs, “in denial about your sexuality” Saturdays, as well as that lump of pubes you carry on your chest. This alone, is why we should no longer care about Catfish or its victims.