How to Avoid Being Catfished
Catfish are a strange breed of people that create new identities for themselves using social media. They use these profiles to deceive unsuspecting internet users into pursuing online romances with them.
The term ‘catfish’ was coined in a pseudo-documentary of the same name that went on to spawn an MTV series. Despite its invented origin, the practice has spread into the real world. It’s surprisingly easy to get caught out by catfish, so make sure to follow these guidelines.
Do your research. It may seem a bit stalker-like, but try to find out whether the person chasing you exists independently of their profile, or if they’ve created multiple profiles. Use Google’s search functions to see where else their name or image crops up.
Check out their friends. Not everyone has hundreds of Facebook friends. Nevertheless, you should be suspicious of people with very low friend counts. While you’re in detective mode, look through their photos and check whether there are real people tagged in them. Also try and gauge whether the photos seem like a coherent collection, rather than just random images stolen from elsewhere.
Tell your friends. While it might feel unlucky to tell your friends about a relationship in its very early stages, the benefits of telling them far outweigh the costs. They’ll be able to objectively consider the information you have and will point out anything that seems iffy.
Get proof. The internet is a favourite haunt for ne’er-do-wells out to lie, cheat and steal. This is common knowledge, so don’t be afraid to ask your love interest to prove they are who they say they are.
Meet in person. While you probably don’t want to meet everyone who contacts you, it’s definitely worth arranging a face-to-face meeting with someone that you begin to develop any kind of feelings for. If distance is an issue, arrange to call them via Skype.
Take your time. There’s nothing to be gained from rushing, so tread carefully. It’s easy to feel like you’re falling in love with someone, especially when you’re able to project your desires onto a relatively blank slate. Exercise emotional caution until you’ve met the person in question.
Be logical. You’ll be able to react sensibly to potential catfish if you harness your inner Spock. Don’t be a slave to your emotions and be aware that neurotransmitters in your brain may be kicking in and muddying your decision-making skills. If in doubt, take a step back and look at the situation from the perspective of a third person.
Try not to worry. Catfishing is pretty rare in the grand scheme of things, and it’s safe to say that the majority of people are genuine. Being cautious needn’t take the fun out of things and will quickly become second nature.
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