As many of you probably know from the MTV reality show, a catfish is someone who pretends to be someone they’re not using Facebook or other social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances.
You may be asking yourself: Why would anyone want to be a catfish?
Well, as it turns out, there are two main reasons people catfish: either someone does it because they are scared no one would want them for who they are, or they do it specifically to punish others.This blog will focus on the first type.
The first type of catfish thinks and feels like they are not good enough on their own. A catfish can be male or female pretending to be either male or female. Usually the catfish thinks that if they used a real photograph of him or her self, no one would want to be friends with him or her.
As a society, most of us have put such an emphasis on what people physically look like that we reject or mock people who do not fit our idea of what is acceptable. How tall are they, how much do they weigh, what skin tone do they have, what do their teeth look like, what color is their hair, do they have acne? (Thanks to this, the beauty industry makes billions of dollars off of us every year.)
So, those of us who feel deep shame over who we are go find a picture of some person we think is beautiful and bang! we have our profile picture. And usually it is only the profile picture that is a lie. With a successful mask in place, we are finally free to be ourselves. We can search for other people who like the same things we like or have the same philosophies we have. We can finally let our guards down and be ourselves.
Online relationships can be so much easier than face to face relationships. Sometimes it is easier to talk to strangers about things that make us feel because, if they are a stranger we don’t have to care what they think of us. If we do not click then we simply block or unfriend them until we do find those people we click with; our tribe.
I am not sure how many of you have tried opening up to someone else online, but it is less intimidating not having to look someone in the eye when you share your deepest thoughts and emotions, especially if there is a chance you might be rejected for them.
So, the benefits of being a catfish include:
a safe place where the lonely can open up
finding validation for your true inner self
a place where an outcast can find friendship
an outlet where online acceptance can increase self esteem
But, there are many risks to catfishing. Sometimes the risks outnumber the benefits.
Some catfish experience internet addiction because these online friendships are the only support they have. They have to spend more and more time online or texting with strangers which takes away from real-life experiences they could be having. Catfishing also sets people up for continued rejection because once the other person figures it out, they often want nothing to do with the catfish. This loss fulfills the catfish’s idea that no one wants to be their friend and they end up feeling more isolated and more alone. If you are a catfish, you do not have to pretend to be someone else.
You are enough.
Here are some easy ways to meet your emotional and social needs:
- Do what you love you’ll run into others who love the same stuff you do
- join a club or meet up for a topic that interests you
- volunteer one day a week at an animal shelter
- volunteer one day a week at a food pantry
- Doing something that benefits others increases our self esteem, relieves our depression, and helps us connect with others.