The term “catfish” was introduced and popularized by Yanev Shulman, a filmmaker and former prey to an online catfish. In “Catfishing: The Truth About Deception Online”, New York anthropologist, Krystal D’Costa explains the phenomenon of these online false identities. With a rise in the success of online dating services, and a decrease in their previously negative stigma, the number of virtual relationship, both honest and dishonest, has drastically increased over the past few years.
Similarly to any initial face-to-face interaction, hopeful Internet users post their best attributes for others to see. Users often also portray information that they believe will attract the kind of person they are looking for. D’Costa discusses a women who chooses the wording in her profile deliberately to “avoid sounding ‘cutesy’ because she wanted to avoid people who might be looking for a less serious relationship” than she was. A catfish comparably uses the same deliberate techniques to find a person who fits the relationship they are searching for.
The reasons for a person to create a false online identity are as numerous as the ways in which people go about doing it. A catfish creates his or her profile with purpose and intent, just like social media user or online dating hopeful. They are searching for a certain type of relationship, and create profile in reflection and in search of that. Next time you change your profile picture or like a page on Facebook, consider your motivations behind your decision. What version of yourself are you putting up for other to see?