Earlier this week, it was brought to my attention by a friend of mine that someone had been using my pictures for a fake profile on a very popular gay dating/hook-up site. My friend instantly knew that it was fake because he knows that I don’t use these hook-up sites. Now, the narcissistic part of me felt an immediate ego boost at the news because the way I saw it, someone wouldn’t use your photos to try to hook-up with people if they didn’t think you were attractive enough to be successful, right? (If I’m wrong, please don’t correct me and shatter my false illusions.) However, in no time at all, I realised how creepy the entire thing was, and it made me feel violated and dirty. I mean, God knows who has seen this profile. And the disgusting things that this person indicated that they were into… it all just conspired to make me feel cheap, as though I were really the one who owned the profile.
Now, I didn’t bother to report the profile, or make this person know that I was on to them. Firstly, I felt that communicating with this person, even to confront them with the truth, would put me on their level and that thought mortified me. But also, I had no idea who this person was or why they were doing this. For all I knew, it could have been someone who was very unhappy with themselves. After all, how low must your self-esteem be to have to completely lie about who you are just to appeal to someone? The thought of it made me sad for the person, and I found it nearly impossible to remain angry.
That being said, I’m well aware of how dangerous this situation is… and how much it benefits absolutely no party involved. I, of course, have the most to be worried about. Perhaps this person is a total recluse, and this profile is just an opportunity to be someone online that they could never be in person. But, this could also be the profile of some rapist or murderer, and my pictures are the virtual face of this psycho. It definitely doesn’t benefit the unsuspecting person chatting with this fake profile, because it is incredibly dishonest and unfair to make anyone go through the process of thinking that they’re dealing with one person, only to later humiliate and/or disappoint them with the truth. Finally, it cannot benefit the one who is doing the catfishing. No matter how good it makes you to pretend to be some fantasy online, sooner or later you will be confronted with reality and, if you really are doing this because of low self-esteem, how much worse will you feel about yourself when that reality comes crashing in again?
So, if you’re one of my readers and you’ve got some fake profile that you use to catfish people, please listen to me and cut it out. Take it from someone who wasn’t catfished, but whose pictures are being used for the process, it’s a totally unpleasant situation and not at all called for. If you’re a genuine user of any online dating/hook-up site or app, I thought that this would be a great time to remind you to be careful of the people that you connect with, and offer a few tips that may prove to be useful.
- Never meet up with someone that you’ve only met that day. Even and especially if you’re only using the site/app for sex, this isn’t a good practice. Sex has always been around, and it will always be around. There’s no need to rush to meet some anonymous stranger that you only met a couple of hours prior just to get laid. Trust me, your orgasm isn’t going to expire if you wait a little while longer.
- Get as much information on your contact(s) as you can. Ask as many questions as you can think of to get to know this person better. A good idea is to ask the same questions in different ways over a stretched period of time, keeping track of all the answers given. That way, if the same question results in two completely different responses, it will be a lot easier to establish if you’re dealing with a fake.
- Make use of video calling. Pretty much every smartphone, tablet and laptop nowadays comes equipped with cameras and video-calling capabilities. Use these to ascertain that the pictures that you see online match the person to whom they allegedly belong. If the person that you’re speaking to online often finds excuses for not being able to video chat with you, that’s a pretty good hint to cut off ties and run the hell away.
- Inform someone that you trust when you’re meeting one of your contacts. It’s totally fine if you don’t want to divulge the fact that you’re hooking up with someone you met on Grindr. However, it wouldn’t hurt to tell your best friend or your sibling or whomever that you’re meeting with someone at a certain time in a certain place. It’s also a good idea to keep them informed if you visit different locations (for example if you and your “date” go bar hopping). That way, if something bad were to happen – God forbid – and police were to get involved, it would be a lot easier to establish settings and consult surveillance footage or eye witnesses.
- Finally, even if the 6 ft 3 blue-eyed Adonis that appears in the phots online match the person that shows up at your front door, and every story that you’ve been told online adds up, it still doesn’t mean that you know everything about this person’s past… especially sexually and medically. As such, use protection whenever you’re getting intimate. Believe me when I tell you, there’s no penis, vagina or sexual position that is worth risking your health over.
If there’s any other tips that you can think of and would like to share, don’t hesitate to add them in the comments below. Also, if you’ve got any stories of being catfished online, I’d also love to hear them. I’ve gotta tell you, this one was totally new for me and I still don’t entirely know how to deal with it.
That’s it for now, my beautiful people. Remember, you can be adventurous and you can be outgoing… just be safe!