Catfishing (From urbandictionary.com):
“The phenomenon of internet predators that fabricate online identities and entire social circles to trick people into emotional/romantic relationships (over a long period of time).
Possible motivations: revenge, loneliness, curiosity, boredom
The term catfishing was inspired by the 2010 documentary “Catfish.”
Gwen was worried that her online boyfriend was a phoney after she saw a TVprogram about Catfishing.”
A few years ago, the hubs and I found out about this documentary called “Catfish.” It starred a guy who figured out that this beautiful, young, fabulous girl he was sending gifts and money and love to was actually an old, married woman from a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. He now has a show on MTV where he helps people who think they are being catfished figure out if they are or not. He’ll help them do research, fly them to where their person lives, and make them ‘fess up.
For a while, I wondered why B and I still watch this show, mostly because it is the SADDEST SHOW IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE. And it is the kind of sad that just makes you feel like the world is ending. Worse than the Sarah McLachlan-song-abused-animal-commercial kind of sadness.
It is the kind of sadness that shows, to me, a fundamental horrible part of society that is probably the root of a lot of things. Allow me to explain.
The episode that we watched this week starred a boy who had contracted a virus which had left him paralyzed from the shoulders down. He had been in an online relationship with a girl (a beautiful, blue-eyed, blond girl) for years, and according to him, she had helped carry him through his darkest moments. Moments where he thought he would die, where he was totally alone and even sometimes suicidal. He loved her so much and wanted to marry her (he was ready to propose), but she refused to meet with him in person or video-chat.
So, the hosts of the show set out to meet the mystery girl. When they arrive, they find a quiet, timid, sweet girl who has had a terrible life. Emotionally abused, always told she wasn’t worth it, both her parents had died and even though they didn’t really deserve it, she nursed them until their deaths.
But … and I bet you’ve guessed it by now, she wasn’t the “hot girl” from the photos she had been sending him. She was in tears, telling them that she just couldn’t bring herself to meet him. “He won’t like me anymore once he sees its me,” she says to the camera.
I’m always screaming at the TV when I watch this show. “Yes, he will, honey! You GO GET YOUR MAN! You are WORTH IT, GIRL!” B rolls his eyes and laughs at me.
OH! WAIT! I forgot to tell you about the part where they goggled her name or phone number or something and it turns out that someone by that name has a mugshot and was CONVICTED OF MURDER. When asked if that was a deal breaker? “Well, I mean, I really love her!” he says. Who cares if she’s a murderer–he loves her!
She arrives. From first glance, you can immediately tell IT. IS. OVER. She is overweight. She is not “classically” beautiful. She has no self-confidence whatsoever. You can see it ALL OVER HIS FACE. She tells him she loves him. She tells him it’s ok if he is sick and that he can’t move from his chair. She will take care of him. She doesn’t mind; she’s always done it for everyone else.
He does not reply.
A month later, they check in with him. Are they in a relationship? “Uh, no, I’m actually dating someone else,” he says.
Would it be ok if take a second to recap? This man, who has gone through an almost life-ending experience, who is paralyzed, who has been in love with someone for years, who LOVES HER SO MUCH THAT HE IS OK IF SHE ACTUALLY MURDERED SOMEONE, suddenly wants nothing to do with her. She’s fat, after all.
I went and watched my daughter sleeping after this episode ended. What do I wish for her? Honestly, sometimes I just wish that it’s easy for her. “Please, please, let her be thin and healthy and popular so she knows she is worth it.” But then…but THEN, I think, “Please somehow, just let her find someone who knows she is worth MORE THAN HER LOOKS. Please, please let that happen.”
We live in a society where it’s more ok to be a murderer than it is to be fat. And people all around you are so lonely and so desperate to be loved and are being left behind. We are so stuck in our ridiculous notions of what we should look like and dress like and what our houses should be like and we are leaving goodness behind.
WE ARE LEAVING GOODNESS BEHIND.
I have so many dreams for my children, but I worry about my daughter so much more than my son. As a woman, I know how much my worth relies on how I look. I got somehow totally, totally lucky, because my husband does not love me for how I look. I know this because I am not “beautiful.” I am overweight. And he loves ME. I can’t even handle how lucky I am. But that shouldn’t be the exception.
Each year I talk to my 4th graders about what character is. “It’s who you are when no one is watching,” I tell them, over and over. I try to show them, I try to model for them what good character means. I admit to them that I have insecurities but I hope they don’t. And each year I have 9 year-olds who don’t like how they look, who think they are fat, who throw over half their lunches away so that they don’t get fatter.
I don’t know how to make this end. I don’t. You can debate obesity and health and fat-shaming and blah-blah-blah, but what I want is GOODNESS.
I don’t want acceptance. I want more than that. I want people to see what is true-that we are so obsessed with sex and being “hot” and being embarrassed to not look “perfect” that some of us are missing out on the best stuff.
The deep, dark roots of all of this, though, is that this girl from my story, she is so desperately sad and alone. She is forgotten. We are forgetting people, and this is part of why I think mental illness is running rampant in our country. People are just being forgotten.
Here is my plan for what I can do TODAY to combat this:
- Greet everyone you see.
- Extend a hand and MEAN IT.
- Practice humility.
- Try to quiet that “judgy” voice in your head (you know the one, omg she is so fat she should not be wearing that, I’m so grateful I don’t look like THAT).
- Stop talking aloud about superficial things in front of our children. Don’t talk about how you hate your nose, how you wish your legs were longer, how you need to go on a diet, how your clothes are ugly.
- LOVE. EVERYONE.