Hello, my name is Luchae, and I’ve been catfished. And the crowd goes wild.
I know, what an opening statement. But I’ve come here to explain, so I hope you brought your coffee and a comfy blanket.
Okay, so for those of us (yes, I’m looking at you, Magda) who may not know what it means “to be catfished”, Wikipedia explains it rather nicely like this: “On the internet, a “catfish” is someone who creates fake personal profiles on social sites using someone else’s pictures and false biographical information to pretend to be someone else.”
So when I say “I’ve been catfished” it basically means that, yep, I’ve been the victim of a catfish. Someone created a fake personal profile and used my pictures and some of my info, in order to pretend to be someone else.
Rather fun, innit?
A couple of years ago (before I met my Hubstopher) I received a very weird Facebook DM from a stranger. The stranger was a young man and upon sleuthing (yes, I’m practically a private investigator okay, don’t undermine my levels of social media investigating) I discovered that homeboy lived in Kwazulu-Natal, was a couple of years my junior and did not have a single mutual friend in common with me.
He also had questionable taste in golfshirts and an apparent love for hair gel, but that’s irrelevant.
Anyhow, I wasn’t exactly thrilled at giving my email address to an obviously emotional lurker, but this guy was as persistent as a mosquito on a hot summers night. Relentless.
Also, I was curious. There, I said it.
After much back and forthing, curiosity won, and I finally gave him my deets.
What he sent to me shocked me!
He began his story right at the beginning, explaining that he had turned to Mxit (90’s kids – hollar) in desperate need of company, after breaking up with the love of his life a few years prior.
For those who dont know (hey TikTokkers) Mxit was the cellphone chatting platform of choice back then. It is different to Whatsapp because you log in to the app via your cellphone number and password each time you want to chat. It was exclusive because you could only chat to people once one of you had invited, and accepted, the other.
So yaaa, homeboy logged onto Mxit, joined a chat room and tried to find new love to help mend his broken heart. Where do broken hearts go? To Mxit, apparently. And it worked, because he met a lovely young lady and the two fell hopelessly inlove with each other. It was like love at first chat. She counseled him through his break up and they shared intimate moments together. It eventually led to them having a serious online relationship where they chatted every day and shared “I love yous”.
They called each other often and sent each other countless photos – he said it felt like they knew each other for years, even though they had never met. He basically went into detail (I mean, he practically wrote a whole Mills&Boons novel) detailing every freckle on her face, the way her head tilted when she smiled, the lines of her cheekbones.
And even though they had never met (and video call wasn’t a thing back then), he would still look at her pics every night, before bed time and say a prayer, before kissing it goodnight. (Yes, kissing the pics goodnight. Yes.)
Clearly the guy was smitten. Now, up until this point, ya girl was engrossed. I mean, how could I not want to know more? He had penned quite a story, and I was waiting for the plot twist.
He went on to detail exactly how inlove they were until the day (plot twist!) when he discovered that girlfriend was not who she said she was. Dum dum duuuummmmm!
In a nutshell, he received the password to her Mxit app and when he logged in, realised that she had lied to him about her identity. She had been lying about her name this whole time. He eventually found out what her real name was and used it to search for her on Facebook. This is where he discovered that she had lied about her age, occupation and hometown too. But, worst of all, she was not the same girl as the one in her pics!
He freaked out (same) and began to look through her Facebook friends list to see if they had any friends in common. And that’s when he spotted her “fake” face… you know, the face that he had been kissing goodnight for years.
And her face belonged to another name. Her face belonged to me. Dum dum duuuuuuuuuuuuuuum!
He immediately connected the dots and realized that his girl had been sending him MY photos for years! He felt cheated and betrayed. I dont blame the oke, shame man.
Anyways, and that’s when he decided to make contact with me to let me know that someone was stealing my pics and passing it off as their own. He was extremely emotional about it, saying that he feels like he has been living a lie, because he was so inlove with this girl and it was one big charade.
And as for me? Well, yeah, I was just as freaked out. I immediately changed my privacy settings and, you know, stopped accepting every single friend request.
I kinda begged him to tell me her name, because she obviously was one of my Facebook friends and I wanted to have a word with her (well, a few words… colourful ones maybe). But through it all, his love for her was so strong that he decided to protect her identity. Sigh, what a love story. *crickets chirping*
But wait, there’s more.
As if that wasnt enough to generate a large freak out session, I received another message from a Muslim friend who politely asked me why I (a Christian girl) had uploaded a profile onto Muslim dating website, Muslima.
That’s right, friends, my catfish did it again! This time, she created a fake profile on the dating website, hoping to find a … I don’t know… a husband? Not sure what the end game would be, once she finds said husband and has to explain why her information (and, you know, her actual face) does not fit the info on the website. But hey, I am but a pawn in this game.
The Muslima profile has since been removed.
Thanks to the MTV series ‘Catfish: The TV Show‘ we’ve become a lot more wiser to the concept of “catfishing” (referring to identity theft). I’d like to think that we don’t believe everything we see on the internet anymore. Also, this definition of the word “catfish” has been added to the dictionary. So that’s a win. Well, somewhat.
But, if I could give you advice (I’m no expert, so get a second opinion maybe) it’s this: be mindful of the people you interact with on social media. You don’t have to accept every friend request. Don’t believe everything you see or read. Use reverse image search to find the origin of any images that they’ve sent you. Use common sense and trust your gut, when chatting to strangers.
Also, maybe don’t fall inlove with a girl in a Mxit chatroom.