“People forget who they are because they are too busy trying to prove to the rest of the world that they are something else” —Anonymous
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard the Manti Te’o hoax-fake-dead-girlfriend story. If you’re like me, you’re beyond tired of hearing about it.
You’ve also heard the word “Catfish” used in the story. “Catfish” is a TV show on MTV about people using fake online profiles.
As soon as I thought everything was calming down on the Te’o story, here comes another story on NFL.com by Jeff Darlington about a woman on Twitter who was using someone else’s photos and communicating with Washington Redskins players.
This story hits home, because I too communicated with the woman who I thought was “Sidney Ackerman,” a diehard Redskins fan like myself. It was online only, but I truly believed she was who she said she was.
She was very knowledgeable about sports and seemed to know the Redskins inside and out. She would post pictures from Redskins games home and away, but mysteriously she was never in the photos, but she did have photos of herself in a Redskins jersey, well I thought it was her. I even played Fantasy Football with her and invited her out on several occasions to “Tweet Up” functions and she never showed up. However, not one time did it dawn on me that she made up an online personality. Yes, she—the person whose photos she was using—was very attractive. But unlike the some of the athletes in the story, I had no lustful thoughts about her, I was simply communicating with someone who had a like interest in sports. It’s even better when it’s a female who knows sports, because they understand how hard it can be for the guys to take us seriously.
I thought to myself, what reason would she have to do this, if she wasn’t trying to gain monetarily or otherwise through these athletes.
The more I thought about it, the more I got it. I’m not saying it was right at all. It’s not right or fair to deceive someone. I know because unfortunately my photos have been used for fake Facebook pages and dating sites. Obviously if you use someone’s photos, you never plan on meeting them—your only plan is deception. I do believe you can form a relationship with someone online, but eventually you want to face time with the person you’re communicating with. In the times of advanced technology there’s really no excuse for not having some type of “live” communication, whether it be Skype, FaceTime, or other form of video chat.
In the social media world, you almost have to have a gimmick or look a certain way to be noticed and gain a following—I’m sure not everyone that follows me does so because they like the way I type.
For the people who do use other people’s photos to deceive—to “catfish”—the question is simple: Why?
We live in society where everything is about looks. This isn’t new, but with social media and the rise of reality shows, the people who are getting the most attention are the “beautiful ones.” The more some of us see this, the more pressure there is to look or be a certain way.
On Twitter, this is clearly the case. There are many superficial follows—I’m guilty of it, I’m sure most of us are. Sadly, some people may feel the only way to get attention is to use someone else’s photos and/or be a certain way to get people to communicate with them. You may say they’re insecure and lonely, but don’t we all have a little insecurity in us? The pressure to look good, be thin, have success, is constantly thrown at us whether it be on TV, online or in everyday life. Does that mean we have to succumb to that pressure?
For us active “Tweeters,” we do see a lot of athletes follow or interact with attractive women, but it’s not just athletes, others do it too, men and women, we’re human. When something attracts the eye, it intrigues us and we want more. My parents always taught me if people can’t love and accept you for who and what you are then you don’t need to have these people in your life.
So I say to these potential “Catfish” participants: Think before you decided to deceive.
Why use someone else’s photos when you know there’s a chance that you will get found out? Don’t let someone talk, let alone fall in love, with a lie. Be yourself, give it a try, let people know the real you. Contrary to popular belief, all athletes don’t communicate exclusively to good “looks.” If you’re a sports fan, which I truly believe the woman behind “Sidney Ackerman” was, show them who you are through your knowledge and support—you shouldn’t feel the need to be someone you’re not for someone you don’t know.
It’s fun to meet people online, I’ve met some amazing people, made some great connections and social media can be a wonderful tool. But if you aren’t sure the person is who they say they are, do some research or ask for validation. It’s no fun being duped. I hope all those out there affected by this are able to get through it, make it a fresh start in your life and online.