Several weeks ago we were discussing Catfishing in Hyde Park. This came about because there was a woman who had been accused of being a catfish. Apparently someone was questioning the real life photos that she had provided in her profile and felt that they were fraudulent. Now this woman was in a relationship in SL but her boyfriend seemed to be sticking up for her, so I assume he felt fairly confident that she was who she said she was. The thing that really surprised me is that she commented that her friends were also questioning her photos, and she went to the trouble of taking separate ones holding up signs to provide her friends with the proof that they required. My question to you is, do you care what your friends look like? I certainly do not. I can understand disclosing yourself to someone you are in a romantic relationship with, but how does your appearance affect your every day friendships? Shouldn’t friendships be based on something more substantial? After the discussion at Hyde Park I decided to watch the Series Catfish. Catfish is a television show aired by MTV. It tells the individuals stories of people who met on social media yet have never met in real life. The investigators Nev and Max meet with the person who is longing to meet their mystery love. They find out all of the incriminating information that the potential catfish has disclosed, and they track them down and arrange a meeting. Unfortunately very few of the Catfish turn out to be who they claim to be. In some cases the catfishing has gone on for several years.
After watching a few episodes of the Catfish Series I contemplated how Catfishing differs between Social Media and Second Life. I looked at the “spotting” techniques used on social media and only some of them even applied to Second Life. I think the reason a lot of them do not apply is that very few people seem to share a lot of personal information under 1st Life in their profiles. It is not like Facebook where you have all of your real life friends and relatives listed on your profile. Most people don’t even list a real life picture in Second Life. This got my mind turning so I decided to look at the profiles near me. There were a few people with personal information and a picture provided, but the bulk of people basically listed that they only shared real life information with friends or not at all.
How to Spot a Catfish
Catfish Rule #1 If they seem too good to be true, they probably are. I currently have a friend who’s been seeing a woman in SL for several weeks and she has not given him a picture. She states that she is very beautiful and she does not want their relationship to be based on looks. She also states she drives a jaguar and has a very successful interior design business. This smells like a catfish to me, but I could be wrong.
Catfish Rule #2 If they say that they care about you and they act like things are getting serious after only a short amount of time. (This may be true for real life but since the total span of a second life relationship is about 6 weeks from first dance to prim babies, short is a relative term.)
Catfish Rule #3 If they don’t know what Skype is or have problems using it or downloading it and you can only chat inworld. If you have already given your picture to someone, there is no reason why you could not jump on Skype for a few seconds just to set their minds at ease.
Catfish Rule #4 If you’ve recently met them and they ask for money. You should never give out money or financial information to someone you don’t know in Real Life. That is just good sense. And don’t give them access to your SL account if you have financial information on your account.
Catfish Rule #5 If their 1st Life picture looks like they could be a model or mildly famous. I think most people can tell the difference between a professional photo and the type you take with your smart phone. If someone is using a photo that looks like it could be in a photographers portfolio, you may want to proceed with caution. In fact, Google Images allows you to upload a picture and do a web search for it. I have to admit I did this to someone on my nearby list and it turned out to be someone with a lot of websites on the web that had personal information on them. So you may want to run your own image before giving it out. Just so you know what kind of information may show up on Google about you.
Catfish Rule #6 If their stories always seem unattainable or far-fetched.
Catfish Rule #7 If you’ve just met someone and there seems like something just isn’t right but, you can’t put your finger on it or you have suspicions. If you meet someone who’s knowledge of SL seems more advanced than the amount of time they have been in SL, you may want to consider they may be an alt. A guy friend of mine said that he can tell the difference between how a girl acts and how a guy acts. For example, if a guy rolls his eyes its more of a woman in RL pretending to be a guy (he stated that men do not roll their eyes but I guess I had never given that much thought).
Catfish Rule #8 If the avatar is wearing marketplace items or designer items and does not have payment information used, listed on their profile. This means they are getting lindens from somewhere else, either from other people or an alt account.
Catfish Rule #9 If your romantic interest will not voice with you to verify their gender. Even for a few seconds.
One of the women I talked to stated that she used a tracker to look at people’s log in and log out times. This allowed her to see if one avi logged off and then another logged on. She was also suspicious of people who seemed to be too familiar with her, often knowing things about her that she did not remember sharing with them. And lastly, if someone used similar sayings from other past avi friends, she would suspect them of creating an alt.
The one thing I did learn about Catfishing, from watching the series, is that people tend to have a reason for hiding. If you are thinking of becoming emotionally invested in your Second Life love, don’t give away too much of your heart without using Skype. Don’t invest years of your time, turning down other romantic opportunities in Real Life to be with someone who can’t give you a few minutes on Skype. And to those of you Catfish out there, isn’t it better to be loved for who you really are?