#SoG123 - Catfishing

After I saw Manhunt over the last two days, I've been reading about more true crimes, con artists (both men and women) and our love and fascination with them! I read about Elizabeth Holmes (Theranos), Billy McFarland (Fyre), Dirty John among others. While the subject is (and all the stories are) intriguing, awe-inspiring and like I said, fascinating, what caught my eye the most was the story of Dirty John.

Dirty John is a moniker given to this guy who would go to online dating websites, present a different persona for self, lure women into relationships, manipulate these women and then, as you would have guessed by now, runs away with their money!

While the story of Dirty John (there is a podcast and a Netflix show inspired by the podcast) is great, the thing for this letter is Catfishing.

Per Wikipedia, catfishing means "a type of deceptive activity where a person creates a sock puppet social networking presence, or fake identity on a social network account, usually targeting a specific victim for deception." More on the Wikipedia page at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catfishing.

For the sake of this letter, I would "assume" that catfishing is actually the "act" of pretending to be someone else when you are online.

Say you are short and fat (please don't go anti-body-shaming on me).
Ok, wait. Lemme talk about myself. I am old, fat and bald. However, when I post online, I may actually put pics that show me as a fit and young individual.

How would I do that?
Suck air and pump my chest while I take photos; remove focus from my now-absent hairline. And throw signals that make me appear young.

There are so many examples of this behaviour that people exhibit online.
Some are...
Pictures of foreign travel.
Selfies with celebrities.
Posing at "exclusive" places.
Photos of food at expensive restaurants.
Name-dropping.
Fancy quotes from fancy people.
And more.

Look on your respective feeds. Of all the things that your contacts post online, how many fall in the above categories? And, most importantly, can you spot patterns that some of our contacts measure their happiness or sadness on the basis of the number of likes and shares they get on their "content"? Validation is the thing that they crave for. And to inflate these validation metrics, guess what would they resort to? Catfishing!

So, what did I learn from this?
Two things.
A. As our lives get more deeply entrenched with technology (and vice versa), at least I often fail to recognise that my real life persona and the one on the internet is way different from each other. And this difference creates a dissonance in my head that often makes me miserable. So I need to stop "acting" or catfishing.
B. Next time I see people living these picture-perfect lives, rather than getting distracted and jealous and "upset" I would pause and consider that they may be catfishing! And get back to work :)

Thank you for reading,
@saurabh
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Tags: Internet, People, Drama, Life.