THE DANGERS OF CATFISHING
Let me preface this list by saying I myself have not and will not ever catfish someone.
- •Once when I was in college, I became embroiled in a dangerous catfishing situation.
- •I met some friends at a Dunkin Donuts one night.This was when I was a young and vibrant 19 year old, not 29 going on 80, so it was pretty late.
- •Two friends, Stacy and Kiki, were acting pretty odd, like they kept whispering to each other.I was kind of in a bad mood. I had just gotten my lip re-pierced, and it was swollen and hurting, so I was not in the mood for the usual shenanigans.
- •I went to the bathroom to make sure that my lip ring wasn't too gross, and when I got back, that's when I began to realize I should have stayed home.I returned to our table to hear Stacy tell Kiki and the others, "He's not going to show up."
- •Some conversation ensued, and with a heavy sigh, I asked what they were talking about.I really should have just stayed home.
- •Another friend, Anna, revealed what Stacy and Kiki had just told her and my friends Luke and Erin: they were catfishing someone.This was in the Myspace era before catfishing had been thrust into the cultural zeitgeist and become a mainstream phenomenon, so this required a bit of skill. Or perhaps it made it easier? Alas, I do not know.
- •Stacy and Kiki explained to me what they had done.They had made a fake Myspace profile and had been interacting with this guy for WEEKS, flirting and the like, and they had told him to meet at this Dunkin Donuts on this night. I was just like, Fuck's sake, I am not in the mood for this.
- •Like clockwork, as soon as they were done telling the story, he walked in.Stacy and Kiki were shocked, though I don't know why. He had said he was going to meet them. As for me, I wasn't sure what to do. I felt bad for this guy, but there was palpable tension in the room, and I felt very nervous.
- •Inexplicably, we hung around for a bit longer, watching this guy wait for a woman who would not be coming.It was an extremely uncomfortable experience, but as I had not driven myself, I was stuck there.
- •Eventually we left to go to Pittsburgh, where we were going to visit our friend Jana at art school.Man, that was a wild night that almost involved vehicular manslaughter, even without alcohol being involved.
- •I thought this story was over, but it wasn't.This guy began sending increasingly threatening messages to the fake account, and then eventually he contacted Stacy and Kiki on their personal accounts.
- •To this day, we don't know how he figured it out. And it didn't stop there.This guy found us all: Luke, Erin, Anna, and I all got messages from this guy. My theory is that once he found Stacy and Kiki, he looked through their friends and recognized us from that night at Dunkin Donuts.
- •I was alarmed and irritated.I mean seriously, I was already dealing with an actual stalker, not to mention a student who was verging on becoming stalker number two and kept wanting me to read his stories about ghastly murders. I didn't have the time or energy to deal with a third.
- •Most of us got off relatively easy.Luke, Erin, Anna, and I only got one message each, and none of us replied. But Stacy and Kiki had to deal with threats for the better part of a month. Eventually they came clean, and I think that's all he wanted.
- •But his last message was not very comforting.Stacy and Kiki wouldn't tell us what he said, but by the way they told us about it, I could tell it was frightening, likely a warning, and they were very clear that we were to never speak of it again. So we didn't.
- •I thought about that a lot afterwards.I still felt bad for the guy - what Stacy and Kiki had done was wrong. But he crossed a line too. I used to wonder if he was really done stalking them (and us by extension). I had become distrustful and cautious and guarded due to my own experiences with my actual stalker, and I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop and for this guy to reveal this wasn't over. It had happened to me with mine, after all.
- •The moral of this story is to not catfish people.Not only is it just common human decency, some people don't react well to such deception. Do you really want to become a cautionary tale?