Exposing fishy world of online dating

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Talking to a colleague the other day I learnt something interesting. He has a new woman in his life and is really excited about their relationship.

He showed off pictures of them together, and I must admit she is a stunning woman. When I asked how they came to know each other, I was surprised when he said they met online.

I thought it was a Facebook situation where he “met” her through a friend of a friend, but he explained that they had actually met on a dating website.

Most of us are inclined to think dating is only done by conventional means, the usual boy-meets-girl-in-person situation, but as we dive deeper into the digital age, you realise people really don’t actually meet first to date.

A story that comes to mind are the Facebook murders that rocked the country not so long ago. As it turned out not all the South African women who were raped by this man had met him before and he portrayed himself as someone else online.

Another popular story is of Manti Te’o, the American football star famous not for his game, but for a hoax that saw him drawn into an online relationship with a woman who “died” before they actually got to meet.

An investigation revealed Te’o’s “girlfriend” did not exist and he was actually a victim of a hoax.

This then makes sense why a show like Catfish is needed in your TV schedule. Here people in online relationships, with people they haven’t met, are assisted in doing background checks on their love interests. It’s almost like Cheaters for the internet.

One of the episodes reveals a nursing student who has had a close relationship with a guy on Facebook for eight months. When the Catfish crew get on the case we discover the “guy” is actually a girl impersonating her ex-boyfriend just to get back at him.

In each episode, the show’s host, Nev Schulman, who is also the co-creator, provides viewers with interesting confrontations with cyber fraudsters who get off faking identities to pass themselves off as other people.

Just as in Cheaters, it is always interesting to expose these deceiving individuals who end up confessing why they lied in the first place. Sadly, as you watch each episode, you get the feeling that the perpetrators are somehow social delinquents who are unhappy with the lives they live.

• Catfish airs at 8.30pm on MTV every Monday.

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