I didn’t even know about Catfish (the show) until I saw the SNL parody. Catfish feels like it’s stuck in 1999, back when the Internet was younger, our technology was simpler, and it was much harder to figure out a complete picture of a stranger you met online. In 2013, it feels like a retro joke. (Even the pretend-retro logo seems misplaced in this HD world.)
Molly Lambert wrote a great piece over at Grantland about how weird this show makes you feel; she nailed it. Catfish seems designed by a disingenuous host who’s determined to see everyone disappointed, but manages to halfheartedly fake otherwise while he conjures up plans to connect subjects with their fishy-sounding love interests. This isn’t a show about online dating, exactly—it’s a show about these weird connections that can be found online, but usually not via an actual dating site.
If you go out of your way to meet people who are outside of your immediate geographic area, then you’re just toying around. I know that sounds harsh, but sometimes we need a little harsh truth. Searching for potential dates (whether via an actual dating site or just via some social network) is often a process in which we work out some of our own emotional issues. If you continually find yourself pining after someone across the country, then you’re subconsciously not actually trying to meet someone serious.
Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing! Long-distance online crushes can be a GREAT way to get some training wheels on, and remember what it feels like to have butterflies in your stomach after, say, a major breakup or even just a long dry spell. Pretend relationships can give you the confidence you need to get out there and geolocate someone in your own ZIP code. This isn’t to say that it’s impossible to fall in love from a distance. But I maintain that it’s one thing to meet someone far away, feel some kind of personal connection and stay in touch and maybe let that develop into a friendship, and eventually have that blossom into a romance; and it’s entirely another to to target and then pine after people who area clearly outside of your realistic dating pool, which is what all the Catfish subjects seem to be doing. So unless you plan to be a guest on Catfish, don’t kid yourselves about what it is you’re doing: you’re practicing for the real thing.
If you decide you’re ready to get serious and you could use some help, get in touch! ♥