One night this week, I caught up with my friend, Kristina. While chatting, Kristina told me about her decision to join PlentyofFish , a free, online dating service. Based off of her experiences, I perceived the site as rather trustworthy. She went on a few dates and mingled with some interesting characters, with the help of POF’s services.
But I knew that Kristina’s good experiences aren’t always realistic.
Inspired by her story, I grew curious about social networking and online dating. I’ve always been interested in joining a dating site, but have refrained from doing so. I wasn’t sure why until recalling the popular MTV television show, Catfish .
Debuting three years ago, Catfish exposes the lives of Facebook users and dating. More specifically, the show focuses on couples who have never met or video chatted. Users contacted Nev Schulman, the show’s host, to research whether the love interest was who he/she claimed to be. Unfortunately, in most cases, they weren’t.
Dreamy, 30-year-old James was, in fact, 54-year-old housewife Amy. Sound bizarre? It is.
Since Catfish became popular, the term itself came to define “a person who creates a false identity in hopes of luring people in romantic relationships.” According to the show, malicious users would trick others for reasons like: social insecurities, lack of friends/family, attention or plain old boredom. I couldn’t help but question the amount of trust that social media sites require. In today’s world, we rely so heavily on social media that we expect everyone to “be” their profile.
Kristina’s experience with POF was positive, in that she personally met who she was messaging. Meeting in person makes the relationship realistic. You’re able to sense the chemistry, communicate with body language and acknowledge real compatibility. But in the case of Catfish, the computer is used as a tool to quickly grow comfortable with someone. Users were in love with someone they’d never met. Some were “in love” with a fake profile. How?
I’m concerned with why we trust others faster via the internet and cell phone, when it comes to relationships. Is it easier for us to reveal information when the recipient is somewhat anonymous? Is this healthy? And, more importantly – what does this mean for the future of relationships?