Remember how when everyone first started using the internet, we all were warned to be careful who we talked to? That not everyone is who they say they are? Pretty common parent warnings and worries, right? It’s called catfishing. Catfishing is luring someone into a relationship by using a fake persona online.

Although many of us may not have much experience with fake personnel on the internet, it is very much a real thing. Creepy, right?

Catfishing really came into the limelight with the production of MTV’s show Catfish premiered back in November 2012. The show really brought to light the different issues behind catfishing and worked to teach many of the telltale signs of a someone who may be tricking you.

It is a pretty common misconception that only foolish people get catfished. There are actually many examples of celebrities being catfished, which is pretty crazy.

Brad Paisley (who made a song about it), Little Big Town, Kate Gosselin, John Henson, and the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders were all catfished by the same woman.  This woman pretended she had a daughter, Claire, with cancer so she could get the attention and some money from the celebrities. She even went as far as providing photos (of another child with cancer!) of Claire who was allegedly on her deathbed.

Manti T’eo is also a super well-known example of catfishing. His “girlfriend” (whom he’d only had an online relationship with) died with cancer at the peak of his career. There were charities, fundraisers, and even donations made to her “family” due to her connections. It was later revealed that she was created by and ex-friend of T’eo’s, named Ronaiah Tuiasosopo.

Weird stuff

So what is it that motivates someone to catfish?

An article in explore the different reasons that someone decides to be a catfisher, which is pretty interesting. So here’s a breakdown of the different types:

  1. Some people who are looking to connect with others, but really find it as the only way for them to connect on a deep level with other individuals.
  2. There are also people who want to separate themselves from their own lives. They have shame about their real life circumstances and want to break away from it, so they pretend to be someone else.
  3. People who get off on the lying aspect of it. There are people who like to play tricks and deceive, so that’s what they do.
  4. Then there are people who just love the adrenaline they get from the affection and attention they are receiving.
  5. People who just want your money. They have every intention of scamming you, so that is exactly what they do.

It’s pretty unbelievable that people do this kind of thing, but it does happen.

So, let’s talk about the morals?

Technically it is lying, but everyone is entitled to the freedom of speech. This is how some people choose to express themselves, harmful as it may be. Typically, there is not physical harm done, just a lot of messing with emotions.

Everyone wants to be able to connect with someone, it’s a pretty basic desire. Catfishing is somewhat of a way to appeal to that desire.

So here’s an official warning. Look out for people who may be catfishing you.

How many friends or followers do they have? Do the have plenty of consistent pictures? Are there pictures of them with other people? Are they willing to communicate with you in other ways than just text communication?

These are important things to consider when you start talking with someone new via the internet. Online is a great way to make connections and meet awesome and interesting people, just be sure to do it responsibly.