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Be Careful Not To Get ‘Catfished’

February 26, 2013 by admin

A Column

By Elicia Phillips
   I’m sure that many of you tune into the popular MTV Series “Catfish” every Monday night. For those of you who don’t know about it, the show investigates the true identity of people who date online to check to see if the person you’re talking to via the internet is really who they say they are. While this may be entertaining, I’m sure many you have had similar experiences and you did not enjoy it.
     Many people do not realize that the Cyber World poses as much danger as the real world. I believe that we need to be careful and pay keen attention to who we meet online because a bad decision can hurt us in so much ways. I had the opportunity to speak to a vast number of persons who had some good and some disappointing experiences.  Let me share one with you.This is Carl’s Story:
     “Online dating is a huge risk! You’ve got all kind of weird, deceitful people out there who would do anything to use you. I know this because of the experiences I had. First of all, I only decided to search online for a girlfriend because I found that many of the girls that I went to school with and worked with were not my type and a bit too common. It’s in my nature to make friends with people of all cultures, so I found that being able to meet someone online was really cool.
     I met this girl; her name was Jessica.  I was not in a hurry to get into a relationship; so we began to talk as friends. Interestingly, we talked almost every day for nine months before I developed feelings for her. I knew her whole family, her sister and mother, even though I never spoke to her mom directly. We exchanged numbers, so I would call her often. The only disadvantage was I lived in a different state and I had no time to travel due to hectic schedule and classes, but I made a personal commitment to myself to visit her in  a couple of months.
     Our relationship became very serious when we made a commitment not to date anyone, and as her boyfriend, I tried to support her in many ways. I would order surprise packages for her and even send her money whenever I could to help her with her bills.
     My eye opener came one day when I called her; she was busy and said she would call me back. However just before I hung up, I heard talking; she had not hung up her phone. I heard someone ask, “Are you still talking to that foolish guy?! Why are you wasting your time?Eventually you have to tell him the truth.’ 
     She replied, “I feel bad because he’s so attached and I actually have feelings for him,’ The person answered, “Yes, but he loves your picture not you’. 
     That’s when my heart dropped. I hung up the phone without thinking. I was like no no no! This can’t be! My first instinct was to call her back, but I couldn’t. I requested a day off from work the next day and immediately caught a train to visit the address I had gotten from Jessica.
     When I arrived at the address two things stood out to me. She always told me she lived in an upscale neighborhood but the neighborhood I stood in was straight ghetto. When I approached the door and knocked a little girl answered, as she saw me she looked shocked and shut the door in my face. I kept knocking, and eventually someone else came to the door. I asked  her for Jessica, she said that’s me. I was so shocked. The person that stood in front of me looked nothing like the pictures that were sent to me. She looked pale and anorexic, and the pictures I had been of a healthy sexy, curvy model.
     Before I could say a word, she started to talk.
     “I know what you’re thinking but I just need you to hear me out. When I first met you, it was just casual conversations and then as time passed I grew attached to you, but I was scared if I told you the truth that you would hate me. I spoke to a friend of mine, and she said, that the reason you kept talking to me was because of my personality. That’s what gave us a connection, not a photo. You didn’t speak to a photo every morning you spoke to me. Everything about me is real except a picture. If you walk away now it’s because you were in love with a picture and not because of who I really am. I’m sorry if I hurt you.’
     After hearing her words, I was speechless. I didn’t know what to say. I walked away without a word and went on a train back home.
      After a few days, I understood her point. I felt betrayed because physically she didn’t represent the picture, but she was  still the same person I spoke to every day. I called her to let her know I accepted her apology. We are still friends but nothing more. This experience taught me to not trust as easily, but it doesn’t stop me from meeting new people via the internet.”
     This story is an example of the things that can happen to any one of us when interacting with people we have never met via the internet.” 
     What do you think of this situation? Ask yourself, would you have treated the situation like Carl or would you have made another decision?  Send your answers to the Stall! We would be interested to hear your views!
     The story depicted is a true story but the names have been changed for anonymity
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