Catfish, Te’o, and the Li(v)es We Live

Last week I received a friend request from someone I only recognized as a person who frequently comments on a friend’s Wall.  I looked at her friend list – dozens of familiar faces.  I looked at her photos – some taken with people I know at events I attended.  Do I know her?  Have we met?  The name of her blog sounded vaguely familiar, the friends in common all trustworthy.  I clicked.

It rattled me.  I’ve been on Facebook for a hundred years or so now and have been fairly good at creating boundaries that are comfortable for me.  In my early days of blogging I confirmed friends if they were someone I spoke to often on Twitter.  Realizing that my friend list was becoming a Twitter followers list, I quickly revised this, encouraging readers to like my blog page and saving my personal page for people I knew and had met at least once in person.  Simple rule, right?  And yet this proverbial friend request that broke the camel’s back led me to write this:

Maybe I’ve watched too many episodes of Catfish.  Or maybe I’ve been lied to too many times myself.  There’s nothing quite like a close friend asking to you go ahead and assume that 90% of what was ever said to you was a lie.  Jarring is the only way to describe that experience.  And permanently so.

Or maybe, just maybe, it’s that I have come to realize that the person we present to the world each and every day is the person we want others to know, whether that is 100% authentic or merely 10%.  Or as it is in some sad and sadly too common cases, completely fabricated.

We determine what pictures we post.

We select what news we announce.

We are responsible for what we believe.

There’s a chance that in the coming days Manti Te’o will hold a press conference to tell the world that he compulsively makes up girlfriends, that it began with a white lie in middle school and developed into a full-fledged duping of the American public.

My guess is that it’s just as likely that this young man was tricked, manipulated, and hurt and is now ashamed and embarrassed.

The truth may be somewhere in between, but in the end we’ll only know what they decide to tell us.

Who do you really know?  What do you choose to share?

And what do you believe?

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  • Ashley Hughes

    I think watching too much CatFish has made me more cautious! I have twitter followers try to add me on Facebook too. I have only added 2-3 people. Mostly the one’s I’ve really gotten to know and they also post real pics so I know they are more real than a person who posted a pic of something else (Like a cartoon avatar).

  • nicole

    so true! you have to read The Song Remains the Same- woman looses her memory in a plane crash and comes to the same conclusion- the ‘I’ we present to the world is fulfilling expectations and may not be the ‘real you’. it’s a thought provoking read on this subject!

  • Janet

    I was dragged into a catfish scenario (aka, web of lies) that started on one Disney fan site, carried over to a private members-only site, and then onto another Disney fan site. It was the most insane thing that I had experienced on-line (outside of the time that someone on a financial website had threatened to kill me, that is). I pretty much knew this person had been lying for years, but I had managed to distance myself (thank goodness). However, I eventually was dragged into the thick of things. Fast-forward a bit… A group of us eventually outed the scamster and he/she disappeared into the ethers.

    • Janet, what a crazy story!! I have to wonder if these people really believe that they won’t be found out, and if they really believe that they aren’t hurting people with their lies.

      • Janet

        Amy, the story included “Ms. CatFish” claiming for years to be a world-famous writer (a lie since we knew what her real name was and no publications were attributed to it), and it ended with “Ms. CatFish” contracting the West Nile Virus (an easy lie to uncover since the CDC keeps a list of names of people with the disease). Bizarre simply is an understatement when it comes to the story of “Ms. CatFish.”

  • I’m honest in what I reveal online, but I keep a lot of personal information about myself and my family private. So what you get is really me, but not all of me.

    I have known enough real life people that lie as easy as breathing, so I’m cautious with who I trust.

  • All good points. I do not “friend” people on fb unless I really know them. I “like” several companies/brands. And I don’t post too many personal things. So as Terri K said, you get the real me, but not all of me. That’s a good way to put it.