PicBod- Catfishing

After talking to Hunter in my conversation with a stranger, I did question whether I can trust what he is saying; when talking to him through an online chatroom, the idea of Catfishing came to mind and the program Catfish. Catfishing is the phenomenon of internet predators that fabricate online identities and entire social circles to trick people into emotional/romantic relationships (over a long period of time), states Urban Dictionaries; even though my conversation wasn’t over a long period of time, I could still have been lied to about Hunter’s identity.


The original film, that influenced the TV series, and the program Catfish, both look at the online dating and social media scene that has grown in recent years, they get involved with particular individuals to look to see if the people they are talking to online are really who they say they are, most of the time they are not. Below shows the trailer for Catfish the film.

I looked at an article about ‘Online Dating Red Flags: Warning Signs of a Catfish‘, the content was interesting to me and I hoped that it would give me an idea of whether what Hunter was saying is true:

With more than 40 million men and women online looking for love, there are bound to be some scam artists out there. A “catfish” is a person who creates a false online identity in the hopes of luring people into romantic relationships. Nev Schulman starred in the 2010 documentary, Catfish, about being drawn in by a woman online claiming to be someone she wasn’t. Now the executive producer of Catfish: The TV Show on MTV, he advises you to think before you begin your next online relationship. Look out for these early warning signs that your love interest may not be who they say they are:

The Modeling Profession

If anyone says they are a model, watch out. It means that they are recognized as a very attractive person. If the person you are talking to says they are a model, but also has another amazing career, he or she may be too good to be true. Models are generally very busy and travel a lot. Also, it’s easy enough for a scam artist to access model photos online and post as their own.

Facebook Profiles

If a person’s profile has fewer than 100 friends, and more specifically, if there are photos of the person with other people but the other people aren’t tagged, be cautious. These may be pictures taken off an unsuspecting person’s profile.

Traumatic Injuries and/or Illness

We see car accidents, deaths in the family and cancer a lot in catfish scams. This is very common because the best way to avoid meeting up is by having a traumatic experience. It will make the other person say, “Oh, my God, don’t worry about meeting with me now. I will just wait until you are better.” This is a way of tugging at your heartstrings and making you feel guilty. “Sympathy is an incredibly strong emotion,” Nev says.

No Pictures

If a person can’t immediately send you pictures of themselves in this day and age, then you should proceed with caution. “You’ve got to expect and require them to show you to some degree that this is who they are,” he says.

No Webcam

If a person cannot get to a webcam after repeated requests and attempts, then this is an early potential warning sign that they are trying to avoid you seeing who they really are.

These are all very interesting points, however I do not feel they are completely useful for my online chat with Hunter; there was never an exchange of images due to the type of chatroom and also there were no webcams. I understand that this does not mean Hunter was 100% truthful, however none of these obvious catfishing signs came up. If I had stayed in contact with him and possibly added his Facebook profile it would’ve been interesting to see if what he told me linked up with his profile. Half of me wished I had stayed in contact with him, but on the other hand I find it interesting that we will never talk again, yet he let me into his personal life for that few hours chat.

All of this Catfishing idea leads me on to think, can I trust who I talk to online; I know with close friends and people I know, I feel pretty confident if I spoke to them they would tell me the truth, however after my conversation with Hunter I am still wondering if he was truthful with what he told me. I looked at the article, Can You Really Trust the People You Meet Online? this was a really interesting article with some interesting points:

  • Online communication has become an integral part of most of our lives, and yet many people continue to view those they meet on the Internet with suspicion. They imagine that online forums are filled with sexual predators and people using false identities.
  • To address the first issue, there are many ways to meet people online—dating sites, chat rooms or forums, or social networking sites. These venues differ in terms of users’ intentions and opportunity for deception. The second issue—what individuals are most likely to lie about—can be divided into several categories, including physical appearance,education, relationship or job status, and issues related to personality traits and interests.
  • Surprisingly, people can sometimes be more authentic online than offline in the way they express their personality.
  • people involved in online relationships can develop intense bonds due to the unique ability for the anonymity and control provided by online interactions to enable expression of the “true self”: traits that a person possesses, but does not normally feel comfortable expressing to others. Research has shown that when we chat online, even briefly, these normally hidden traits become more cognitively accessible to us and we actually do succeed in expressing them to others (Bargh et al., 2002).
  • In general, people are likely to be pretty honest online; most online deception does notinvolve the creation of false identities. It’s certainly true that it can be easier to lie online than offline, particularly about your physical appearance or job. So the lies we tell online have the potential to be far more all-encompassing than anything we could get away with in person. Despite that, most online lies, like most offline lies, are subtle, representing people’s attempts to portray themselves in the best possible light, with slight exaggerations (Zimbler & Feldman, 2011).
  • Some people are more prone to deceptive behaviour online than others, such as those high in sensation-seeking, and those who show addictive behaviour toward the Internet (Lu, 2008).

The article was very interesting to read and made me consider my own experience with talking to Hunter, even though I will never know, I believe for the most parts Hunter was telling the truth; his answers seemed genuine and also some very personal. There may have been slight areas that Hunter ‘tweaked’ in his life but I do feel he told me about the real Hunter, but I will never know and this idea interests me.

I am very interested in the idea of Catfishing and trust through the online world, however for this series of images, I feel that it would be had to portray the vast amount of information to do with these subjects. I plan to look into the idea of isolation as this is another interesting theme I picked up on when taking to Hunter, and I hope to create my series based around that after I have done some research.


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