Our class discussion on Dear Evan Hansen in MKTG 5606 got me thinking about another cultural phenomena that has been amplified by social media – Catfish. Catfish is a documentary that premiered in 2010 which follows Nev Schulman on his journey to meet a woman who he met on Facebook and all the twists and turns along the way which ultimately ends with the woman being a complete fabrication of her online persona. The film had much success which led to a MTV series of the same name showcasing various people and their journey of revealing if the person they’ve been contacting through social media is indeed real or fake. The movie and show both coined a new term – catfishing. While there is some scrutiny on the show’s legitimacy, one thing is certain – the rise of fake profiles are on the rise. So far in 2021, Facebook has taken down nearly 1.3 billion fake accounts.
It is very easy for anyone to create an account and make up a persona since little to no verification is required. So what is the “why?” Lots of people create fake profiles bc they’re lonely and it’s easier to hide behind a persona. In an online survey, surveying 27 people from around the world who identified as catfish, 41% of people cited loneliness as their main reason for catfishing. “I just wanted to be more popular and make friends that could talk to me, some part of the day,” said one respondent. Similar to Evan Hansen, hiding behind the lie was a way to make them feel seen/heard. Some even described catfishing as an addiction that is hard to stop. Another respondent said, “It’s hard to stop the addiction. Reality hit, and I felt like a shitty human.” Again, similar to Evan Hansen, the lie gets to be too much at a certain point and then your conscience kicks in. “What is the right thing to do here?”
On the plus side, it seems that users are moving away from social media more and more. In our reading, Era of Antisocial Social Media,” indicates that the amount of time Millennial and Gen Z audiences spend of many social media platforms is either flat, declining or not rising as greatly as it has in past years. Younger generations have explained that this shift is due to the fact that they want to be themselves and make real friends based on shared interests. They are also craving privacy and safety as well as respite from the throngs of people on social media platforms (some of which now include their parents). In my experience, more people are making memories in person since that has not been the case for a while. I think also the older you get, you grow out of the superficiality of social media which is why Millenials and Gen Z’s social media time is not rising as much as it did in past years. It could also be that there hasn’t been an innovation in social media for a while.
“Catfish (Film).” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 23 July 2021, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catfish_(film).
Gariano, Francesca. “Fake Social Media Pages Are on the Rise: What to Do If You Find One.” TODAY.com, 9 Sept. 2021, www.today.com/news/fake-social-media-pages-are-rise-what-do-if-you-t229341.
Vanman, Eric. “It’s Not about Money: We Asked Catfish Why They Trick People Online.” ABC News, ABC News, 25 July 2018, www.abc.net.au/news/2018-07-26/why-catfish-trick-people-online/10035624.
Wilson, Sara. “The Era of AntiSocial Social Media.” Harvard Business Review, 5 Feb. 2020.