Dear Catfish: Things you should knowPosted: 2012/12/28
I fell in love with one of you once. Before I knew what a “Catfish” was, I just thought he could be a sociopath or I maybe I was delusional and imagining the whole thing. Please let me explain before you stop reading. My intent is not to make you feel badly. I understand the last thing you need is more self loathing. I’m just trying to establish my level of expertise on this subject before I start providing you with information to consider. My shit was so not together at the time and I was a very willing participant in the addicting roller coaster ride and resulting glorious train wreck. The fake relationship lasted for 22 weeks of cams, email, chatting, lust, declarations of feelings, fake plans for the future and fights about why I couldn’t meet him. Turns out he was faking his entire identity and when I found out he vanished into thin air without apology or explanation, resurfaced 3 months or so later, continued the silence and finally went away for good. My heart imploded and almost took my soul with it. The battle back was way too lengthy, though transforming in an equally glorious way. It was still a battle and I’d like to make it easier for you. I’m usually a loquacious girl, but you should take this seriously, so I’m going to give you the TL:DR as a courtesy.
1. Lying about who you are is not going to ever get you what you need.
2. You are mind fucking the people you interact with.
I’m going on now.
Lying about who you are is not going to ever get you what you need
The first basic rule of humankind. #1. We are ALL EQUALLY FUCKED UP IN DIFFERENT WAYS. I totally get why you might feel you need to do what you are doing. I understand you are checking out of components of life. Maybe you are sad, angry, grieving, in despair, overwhelmed, neglected, unloved, stressed, and/or unsatisfied. Maybe you are lonely. I’m so sorry you are going through these things. I wish you could understand how beautifully flawed and normal this is. Even if you have an added layer of mental illness or addiction. You are still normal, still beautifully flawed and still worth more. You have needs that are no different or less worthy than anyone else. It’s making you feel better or you wouldn’t keep doing it, but you’re cheating yourself. Lying is only a temporary and insidious fix for the problem, like drinking salt water when you’re desperately thirsty. You are accelerating your unhappiness, not alleviating it.
You’re spending time, brain space, and heart space creating a place that you think feels amazing and makes you “happy”, but what will it feel like when you get caught or have to run so you don’t get caught? What will happen when you can’t stay away, because you’re still not happy, so you start lying some more? Lying has a toll. It makes you feel empty, anxious, less than. Do you not recognize this as less than, not more than, what you are escaping from now? You are never going to get what you truly need in a situation where you decline to present your true self.
Which brings me to my next point…
You are mind fucking the people you interact with.
I know you’re probably not a clinical sociopath, you didn’t start lying to fuck with someone for fun or revenge. Like all train wrecks it will occur gradually in baby steps, and then suddenly, you realize you are fucked. You didn’t intend for someone to actually like you, you barely like yourself. Emotions don’t work the same on-line, they rise to white-hot quickly because of the controlled environment. You don’t know who you are going to meet or who will move you or where your heart will take you. The giddy rush you create for us with your words becomes a drug we want more and more of. We want how you make us feel, what kind of person we think you are, we want what we think is the real YOU.
Sure I liked that he was young, an artist, a college grad, a Midwest boy, had a job, whatever other things about his life he shared. He presented a humanly flawed persona and pretended to understand and appreciate me for who I was. I had the benefit of frequent visual and voice interaction via cam, so I knew I liked his appearance. I did not however, fall in love with any of those things. I fell head over heels, think about him constantly, instant physical and emotional reaction upon thought, even stronger upon sight, love with how he made me feel, the kind of man I thought he was. Feelings gained from 100’s of hours of conversation. Feelings derived from little things like declaring his heart belonged to me in a chat room , or taking a bus home hoping he’d get to talk to me on cam for a full 20 minutes so he wouldn’t have to till the next day to see me. I should have known when he avoided hooking up by claiming to move, then a few weeks later declined the offer of regular phone communication, then later claimed to throw away said phone. I should have known when little things kept not adding up, but it was too late. When it became apparent the drug I was taking was likely false and purposely manufactured, it was too fucking late. The lies you are telling might be working, for you. For us, finding out you lied reveals the drug isn’t real, cannot be recreated, and we’ve just had our last hit. It’s gone and there is no way to get any more. Detox is a bitch. Never mind the layers of confusion and betrayal the grief is delivered in. It is absolutely grief. Truth renders the experience over, the fantasy dead, casts doubt on the emotions shared, the intent of the actions and calls into question every single thing you said that made us FEEL for you. No matter how gracious we are when confronted with the truth, you are emotionally raping us. That is quite simply Bad Karmic JuJu. I understand your deep driving need for love, acceptance, understanding, and pleasure. You absolutely are worth all of those things and more. But please don’t try to get them this way. For us its wreckage when the lies evaporate and we realize we have been intentionally mind fucked. The thoughts, opinions and memories we formed of you are not based in reality and now we don’t know what is lies. We are forced to toss everything in the bonfire, set it aflame and move the fuck on as best we can. Even the lines delivered late in the game of “I’ll carry you with me for a long ass time” or “No matter what I will always adore you.” Doesn’t matter, bullshit poisons truth and poison eventually kills everything in its path. The longer the silence, the stronger the death, the less we believe in anything your eyes ever told us, the more we feel as if you plotted to destroy us on purpose and the more we wonder what the fuck we ever did do you to deserve such heinous disrespect and betrayal. First we miss you, then we hate you, then we feel sorry for you. Eventually we forgive you for ourselves and go on about our lives with a piece of our heart tied to some stranger we will never lay eyes on or hear whisper our name again. Your ghost lives with the other exes in whatever manner we keep them.
Epic fuck ups require epic apologies and I am a huge fan of epic apologies, but deaths are usually not curable.You’re never going to get the girl/guy this way. So put on some trainer big girl panties or big boy boxers and try being you. Don’t kill your future relationships before they even start. Out there somewhere is more than one person who can and will love you for all of what is actually you.
This New Year’s resolve to fearlessly be yourself
I’m not the only one who has something to say about this, I wish I could meet Rachel Stein in person and give her the biggest girl hug possible for putting into much more eloquent words that I could previously find EXACTLY what it feels like to the person you are lying to. I could also hug Nev for just being brave enough to put the message out there.
From Television Without Pity Rachel Stein
On the person being lied to..
..but the fact that so many people immediately trust who they meet online is no longer a freakish urban legend that happened to a friend of a cousin, but something that happens all the time to people who are actually smart, decent and even skeptical. It’s happened to me (in a much less significant way than the cases we see on this show) and to people I love and care about. And when it does happen, as Schulman and his co-star/investigator Joseph aren’t usually there with cameras to reveal it all to you… but it’s about as humiliating and schema-shattering as it was for Sunny. It brings into question what it even means to actually know a person and what a relationship even is, and that’s just for the person getting lied to. It’s so strange and overwhelming and unfamiliar that when it did happen to this young lady in the pilot, her first response was literally: “Am I being Punk’d?”
On the Catfish…
In some ways, I wish we got to learn more about these people who make up fake Internet lives, …But how lonely must their lives be? How embarrassed are they by their own appearance, desires and actual realities? …When Schulman does his check-ins a few months down the road, our offender has always made it a point to share that they’ve lost a few pounds, or in this case, found a new way to empower themselves… because after months of using social media to finally start expressing your desires — that is, the perfectly normal craving to have a relationship with another human being — after years of torment, something’s got to change.
Complex: At the end of the movie, you look really depressed. How upset were you by these duplicitous relationships? Yaniv Schulman: I’ve had two moments in my life where I sort of hit rock bottom. That was one of them. I had built up this daily interaction with these people who were distracting me from my life, building me up and really filling me with such excitement and hope, and then, when it was over and I came home, I felt like the last nine months meant nothing. It was really hard to pick myself up off the floor.
Update 08/15/13 The catfish came out of hiding, and made an error while visiting the blog to see how much “dirt” was here. This allowed me to locate him within minutes via Google, some details he provided in his lies were true and it was enough to make it very easy to find him once I had the correct parameters for searching. He stayed for 22 seconds and will likely never return. Since I am I classy girl, I politely emailed a simple hello and informed him blogs have trackers. Passing up once again a chance to mercilessly fuck with him for some fun of my own. His reaction was a terse, cold, email stating he felt he had merely made a mistake by misrepresenting himself and had put it all behind him, was sorry IF ( yes, IF, I had to really let that one go quickly or its poison would of turned me bat shit crazy) he misled me and a lengthy directive to go away and never bother him again. As in, I’m pissed you busted me, I thought I got away with this and I’m not interested in providing you with anything helpful or kind. Perfect example people show who you they are the first time. I will of course honor his dismissive and insulting request. Finally learning his perception of my worth and meaning in his life, along with his full identity, was the perfect closure. Karma will take care of the rest. Peace Out!
- Catfish: The TV Show and My Real Life Catfish Experience (upcloseanduncomfortable.wordpress.com)
- The Story Behind ‘Catfish’ (psychcentral.com)