I loved the documentary Catfish (2010) for its rawness and openness. Nev exposed himself to Angela and then to the world.
When I found out that MTV had created Catfish: the TV series I was skeptical. MTV is overly commercial and focuses on music plus the demographic is…well, you know.
But I had to check it out and when I came down with the flu the other week I took the plunge and bought a few episodes off iTunes.
So the first episode I watched was about a young girl, Aly (not her real name), who had an online relationship with a rapper. She was totally smitten and went as far as accepting his online wedding proposal. She was engaged to a man she never met.
The guy turned out being a cousin of her best friend. Her best friend had been worried that Aly was getting in trouble and needed to slow down and the only way was by having an online boyfriend. When Aly found out the truth, things went crazy and there was swearing and maybe even a slap involved. The reasons behind the deception was actually sweet but it was just so cheesy.
After seeing this episode I thought it was rubbish and considered watching Ellen instead. But something kept my interest. I love being a voyeur and knowing about other people’s lives (that could explain why I chose to become a social worker).
A few weeks ago I interviewed a psychologist about people who become addicted to the Internet and meeting people online. We discussed the idea that people go online to escape reality and while I was watching this show I could see that yes, some people were unhappy with their lives.
Some people were at a very low point in their lives and were searching for some hope, happiness and light. Amazingly they clicked on someone’s name on Facebook or msn chat and suddenly they had someone to talk to.
Maybe that’s why I relate to the show. When I was feeling low I turned to online chatting and met some amazing people. Those people helped me get through some very hard times.
But I digress. Most of the people on Catfish are looking for friendship and to do this they tweak a few bits of their personal information to make them look more appealing.
What I find interesting is that as soon as they are confronted by the person and the hosts of the show, the truth comes out and none of them keep up the facade. Everything comes out and then it is up to the individuals to decide where their relationship is going.
In each episode it is clear that the moment when they meet is a major event in their lives and enables each party to move on with their lives.
I used to think that chatting online was a way to escape reality but I’m beginning to understand that your online world is your real world too and it can even make it better sometimes.