Teenage

Hook, Line and Sinker: Catfishing

Jomarie Malcolm

Tuesday, February 19, 2013    

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YOU'VE signed in to your Facebook account as an almost reflex action and as you surf your timeline you notice a new friend notification.

Mutual friends or not you are captivated by the person's profile picture and compatible interests and you add them anyway. Sooner or later the person sends you a message and sets in motion a series of events which you later discover, whether to your delight or disgust, was the product of catfishing.

Facebook is one of the most prevalent social media networks amongst Jamaicans. Ranging from conversations to controversy, social media networks have impacted on modern day culture, both positively and negatively.

As social media networks become more personal and encourage users to reveal more about themselves, it is becoming easier for online predators to take set on their victims in 400 or more characters.

This new predatory act that thrives on the unconfirmed reality that social media networks can create is called catfishing.

The basic definition of catfishing is the fabrication of online identities and entire social circles to falsely convince people into emotional/romantic relationships usually for an extended period of time.

The main aim of engaging in this act seems to be geared towards deceiving others for personal gain. Another interpretation is that it is done because of the insecurity of the prospective love interest that is afraid of rejection and instead "creates" someone, who is attractive and more likely to win the person over.

Catfishing is not so much a recent phenomenon as it combines the anonymity of blind dating with the salacious intentions and motive of the catfish. However, what makes this act even more vindictive is when it is fuelled by revenge.

Have you ever heard those stories of groups of friends who create fake profiles of guys or girls to get back at a friend? When the predators asked their victim out on a date, not only were they stood up, but they were later humiliated at school for being in love with someone who did not exist. They were labelled desperate and gullible. This is a branch of catfishing that has become so prevalent in high schools it has made the usual stresses of high school unbearable and limitless.

We encourage all TEENagers to be careful about where they will be looking for love because social media networks is quickly becoming one of the wrong places.

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