Fishing for love online


Online dating has become more popular now than ever thanks to social media. But can you really find your soulmate on Facebook? And if so, are they really who they say they are?

The MTV show “Catfish” has been parodied on “Saturday Night Live” and received even more attention after University of Notre Dame football star Manti Te’o’s girlfriend was revealed to not be a girl or a friend — or  even real.

“Catfish” began as a documentary film featuring photographer Nev Schulman and his experience connecting with a woman on Facebook. After months of chatting, he finally met who he thought to be the woman of his dreams. Turns out, she was a mother in her 40s who created an ideal version of herself to escape her own reality. Schulman was left broken-hearted.

He eventually adopted the film into a reality series for MTV in which Schulman and his sidekick Max Joseph, a filmmaker, help people finally meet after forming relationships online. Since Schulman has first-hand experience with relationships-gone-wrong, he can relate to the show’s subjects.

While watching “Catfish,” I can’t help but root for these people. They become so invested in one another’s lives and just when I  think that it might work out — right before a door opens to reveal the person’s true identity, the show cuts to a commercial. During the break, I’m left wondering whether two people are about to discover true love. But that’s usually not the case — at all. It’s hard not to watch the show and think, “Wow, you’re really naïve”, since there’s almost always clear signs that the person isn’t who he or she claims to be.

They documentary’s subjects have been chatting with strangers who they think are “the one.” Of course, I’m hoping there will be a “happily ever after”, like in a romantic comedy, but usually there isn’t one, because this is real life.

Many people like the mystery of communicating with a person whom they have never physically met. On more than one occasion, these people claim to be models. Many say that they don’t have video-chatting or a cell phone. Not that these things can’t be true, but it’s the equivalent of saying that you don’t live in the 21st century. Let’s not confuse fact with fiction.

It makes you wonder how someone can do that to another person. In some cases, the person lying was afraid of not being accepted for who they truly are. Some struggled with their sexuality or with  their weight, while others seek the thrill of launching a personal vendetta against someone. These “relationships” start out as friendships, and those lying are pretending to be someone else, because they lack self-confidence or are unhappy with their lives. Some of them have no remorse for lying. For many, it’s become an addiction, as they have multiple fake profile pages.

It’s disheartening to see people messing with stangers’ lives. Online relationships can sometimes work, but people should be less gullible and more attentive.

The moral of the story is don’t be naïve. The internet has plenty of fish in the sea, so don’t take the bait and fall for it hook, line and sinker.