What Is Catfishing? Understanding the Social Media Trend

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Have you heard the term, “catfishing,” and are wondering what it means? Or do you think someone could be catfishing you? Or perhaps you're the one who's guilty of catfishing others? In today’s digital dating world, it’s imperative to not only know what catfishing is but why it's such a problematic trend today.

What is Catfishing?

Catfishing is when someone creates a fake online persona that he or she uses to communicate with others on dating apps and sites as well as on social media. In many cases, this false representation includes fake photos and information that do not accurately portray the person behind the persona.

Why Do People Catfish?

There are many different reasons why people choose to create alternate online identities and dating profiles in order to convince others into thinking they’re someone they’re not. For some people, creating a fake name, using fake pictures, picking a different age or gender, holding a fake job, and basically having a fake persona are done for sinister purposes. For instance, many people choose to catfish others in order to capture someone's attention, establish trust, ask for money, and sometimes even win the heart of this person as a means to an end. People may also choose to catfish simply because they want to toy with the emotions of others and manipulate someone for their personal enjoyment and benefit. 

In addition, there are others who choose to catfish as a way to escape the reality of their current situation and create a brand new identity in the digital world. For example, someone may be insecure, have problems at home, feeling as though he or she doesn't fit in, or simply wonder what life would be like as someone else. And they look to catfishing as a way to leave their real life behind them and take their mind off of their current situation.

Someone may be inspired to create an entirely new online identity and choose to catfish others in order to talk to people whom they believe wouldn't be interested in them in the first place. A catfish often creates these fake personas as a way to cultivate a romantic relationship with others that he or she considers to be out of his or her league or different from the typical person who would be attracted to him or her. The unfortunate reality is that many people are under the impression that if they presented themselves truthfully and authentically online, they would never capture the attention and interest of the person they're interested in and want to get to know. 

What’s the Problem With Catfishing? 

For those who are trying to understand why catfishing is that big of a deal, it's important to look at the various repercussions of this growing trend and why it can be so destructive. On the one hand, when you catfish someone, you’re knowingly and actively deceiving him or her and fully betraying his or her trust. For instance, not only are you lying about basic truths about yourself, such as what you look like, your age, and the details of your real life, but you’re inevitably digging yourself into a deeper hole as the lies keep mounting. For instance, a catfish will often make up detailed stories about his or her family, his or her childhood, as well as what's going on in his or her life in order to bond with someone. And even more revealing, a catfish will often fabricate excuses about why he or she can’t video chat, meet in person, or why he or she desperately needs to borrow money. 

In addition, catfishing someone will inevitably prevent you from ever having a real relationship with this person since you're not who he or she thinks you are. The truth will likely come out at some point down the road, and even if you carry on a long-term relationship with someone where you text and chat often, the connection you’ve built will soon break if and when you reveal who you truly are or if your cover gets blown. When you’re looking to present yourself online and create an online dating profile, it’s always in your best interest to put your authentic self forward and be true to who you are.

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