How Not to Get Catfished

erin1Image source Catfish: The TV Show on Facebook

Last week marked the return of current reality televisions’ greatest gift to America: “Catfish.” If you have been living in a hole for the last year or so, a “catfish” is someone who creates a false identity on social media, and the show “Catfish” is inspired by a documentary of the same name about a man named Nev who fell in love online only to discover that the woman on the other end of the computer was not who she said she was.

Now Nev travels the country with his friend and cameraman Max (can you say silver fox?!) connecting people who are in online relationships in person. Whether or not these bizarre stories are real (and I truly believe that they are), “Catfish” is pure entertainment. I laugh, I cry, I sympathize, and I mock.

I can’t speak from personal experience as to what it’s like to be catfished, but I do know someone who has been deceived, and I have to believe that being in a serious online relationship can cloud one’s judgment. I hate to call the poor, love-struck people on the show stupid, so instead I like to use the word oblivious. They are so hopelessly in love with the idea of the person who they are speaking to, that they fail to see what others on the outside can.

Several “Catfish” marathons and experience being on the outside has allotted me a few online dating tips, which I am generous enough to enlighten you with today.

1. Google, Google, Google

To carry out an online relationship, one has to have the ability to use the Internet and be at least somewhat competent in social media. So why, then, don’t any of them ever do a little research on their online partner? It’s called Google, people! A quick search can usually tell you where someone lives or works, and most importantly, whether or not they have a criminal record. If you can’t find anything, try any of the tips below.

2. Social Media Presence

If you have the Facebook account of another person, check their friend count and who is posting on their wall. If they have 4 Facebook friends and their page is not at all active, chances are the account is made up. If they have absolutely no activity on their page, they probably don’t have friends or acquaintances; therefore, they are not a real person.

3. Google Image Search

Back to Google, people. It’s a handy resource, eh? If there’s one thing I’ve gotten out of “Catfish,” it’s the fact that you can search an image and find out where else on the web it is located. Go to, click on “Images” at the top, and then on the camera next to the search bar. Upload the image and voila! If you find a person’s Facebook photos or ones that they have sent you on some random MySpace circa 2003, chances are they were pulled from someone else’s site.

4. Video Chat

You can’t prove a person is who they say they are until you see them live. A phone conversation is not enough. You need to match a voice to a face. Many laptops and computers come with pre-installed webcams, not to mention practically all phones have that feature. If all else fails, a webcam is no more than $20. Likely excuses are “My webcam is broken” or “I’m bad with technology.” Don’t believe it ‘til you see it.

If none of these things helps you confirm the identity of someone, you probably shouldn’t meet them in person. But if you do, bring a friend or meet in a public place.

I hope this helped some of you in your quest to online romance. Just remember: prepare for the worst. You don’t want to end up like this:

erin2Image source

Posted by Erin

One response to “How Not to Get Catfished

  1. As I met my own husband, “on line,” I can totally agree with the article. However, you CAN catch a lot of sharks, but the magic might also be the one that eventually bites.

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