According to a statistic from a Singles in America survey, 33% of people went on their last first date from online dating.
However, a lot of people are still skeptical about finding a romantic partner or significant other for a long-term relationship online. One of the determining factors for this is the fear of being catfished. No, we are not talking about the ray-finned fish – though, catfish is very delicious when fried and battered. Very delicious.
Catfishing can be part of a romance scam. According to Vince Pierce, the husband of Angela Pierce – who deceptively creates an online profile in the documentary film – the term catfish comes from fisherman “putting catfish in with the cod to nip at their tails and keep them active” during overseas transport, in order to produce more lively and fresh meat.
A lot of people heard about catfishing from the popular documentary and television show on MTV, called Catfish. A lot more people found out about the effects of catfishing from professional football player, Manti T’eo.
Manti T’eo, at the time, was a hot college prospect in the linebacker position, and he played football at one of the most glorified college football programs in America: Notre Dame. Manti fell in love with a “person” online, who ended up “dying” of cancer, only to later find out the entire thing was a hoax. Manti had no idea he was being catfished.
“Put yourself in my position,” he says. “I’ve just found out my girlfriend is a big prank. And I think she’s just died and people are asking me about her. And I’m just a 21-year-old guy getting this question on a national stage just two days after it happens.”
Yes, he has regrets and embarrassment—but only up to a point. As he puts it, “I would say I was naïve and I was just unlucky. I was naïve in that I trusted this ‘person.’ But a lot of things just happened, all together, to make this just a case of bad luck.”
But still. A football game over a funeral? Really?
Te’o takes a deep breath. “You have to understand,” he says. “This is a person I’ve never seen before. So I didn’t want to be seeing her for the first time dead in a casket. I didn’t want to see that. I wanted the first time I was seeing her to be the first time I see her. In the kingdom of heaven.”
Before the days of the world wide web, the probability of being catfished was much lower. People met each other and connected through face-to-face encounters. However, with the power of technology and the internet, people can hide behind their online profiles.
Who should we blame for this phenomenon? Those who are doing the catfishing, lying online for the sake of attention and a digital connection? Or those being catfished, for being naïve enough not to ask the right questions and trust their gut when it comes to what a fake person would do, versus what a real person would do?
The primary way a catfish is able to live online is through a digital connection. If you cut off their lifeline, they can’t do what they do to people online.
Encounter doesn’t allow direct messaging until after the first date. The chemistry you think you’re developing through pictures or text messages is not real chemistry. It’s hard for a person to interpret authentic emotion through a digital connection – and that is a catfish’s heartbeat. Encounter cuts off the immediate ability to direct message, therefore cutting off the catfish from wanting to create a profile on Encounter.