It is one of those terms which did not exist until the last decade or so, and when people in the pass used the word, they were talking about an actual fish. According to the Oxford dictionary ‘Catfish’ means, ‘(to) lure (someone) into a relationship by adopting a fictional online persona’.
I am sure you are familiar with the word, what I don’t hope is the reason you are familiar with this word is because it has happened to you.
‘Catfishing’ has unfortunately become such a common occurrence, MTV has created a show around this topic and its host was someone who was a ‘catfish’ victim himself. A colleague reminded me back in the day, you could pull the same deception through a pen pal. The interaction was much slower but it could still be done.
Now the host, Nev Schulman, of that show has written a book on the same topic entitled, ‘In Real Life: Love. Lies & Identity in the Digital Age’. The best part is you can now borrow this book from the Communication and Information Library.
I have seen a few episodes of the television series and, while I am not a fan of reality shows, I think this one is very poignant to how we live our lives today.
The book, like the series, is based very much on the real life experiences of the people who have been ‘catfished’ and since Nev, himself was a victim, he writes the books with a personal insight. It is not the most ‘academic’ book you will read, Nev is not an expert in human communication or an academic from an institution or university, many of the insights are his own conclusions from what he has experienced through the show. But many of the insights will make you think about your online activities. The book also has tips on how to have an online relationship, how to conduct yourself online and advice on how not to get yourself ‘catfished’.
Nev writes in the introduction of the book, “the rise of catfishing has opened up the far bigger question of how we are living and loving in an era of social media”
It not just about scamming your material goods like cash or property anymore, it is now scamming for your very emmotion.
As the academic year starts to wind-down, you may be looking to pick up a ‘good book’ just to read over the holidays, this is an interesting choice.
The library has other book on social media and digital culture. I won’t list the books for you, I will let you have a hand in looking up these books on your own.
But as usual, if you need advice, feel free to ask-a-librarian, Here’s wishing you safe surfing.