While Catfishing definitely seems like a modern-day problem thanks to all of the different ways folks can fake their identities online and assume different personas, it's actually a time-honored tradition that human beings have been engaging in for quite some time. Cyrano de Bergerac was a famous fictional catfish, and even though the play depicts this phenomenon in a humorous and heartwarming light, in reality, oftentimes these stories of deception are creepy and downright tragic.
There are tons of instances of catfishing that go on daily, just ask anyone who's ever used a dating application, and the practice has been heavily analyzed by psychologists. The University of Queensland did a deep dive on 27 different catfishers, according to Bustle, in an attempt to understand what makes them tick and why they would go through such great lengths in order to disguise their identities in an attempt to deceive another human being.
Although there were various reasons why these folks decided to catfish others, researchers found some common threads: that these folks "were motivated by loneliness, struggles with social connection, dissatisfaction with their bodies, a desire to escape, or a need to explore aspects of their gender or sexual identity."
However, what would motivate someone to catfish four of their own friends into getting them to think they had long-distance boyfriends?
That's the question many folks are wondering after Lea Dallas, who posts on TikTok under the handle @legendofleaa, had when she revealed that a friend of hers had duped her and three of their mutual pals by posing as different people during the days of AOL Instant Messenger and MySpace's widespread use.
Lea says that she made the discovery during a sleepover, when the Catfish friend logged into the online account of who she thought was her boyfriend, along with the accounts of the supposed significant others her friends were speaking with as well.
The video begins with Lea smiling in what appears to be a bathroom, a text overlay pops up that reads: "Me and my 4 bestfriends having a sleepover." The clip then transitions to a dark screen with yet another overlay, "We sit and talk about our long-distance boyfriends who we all met on the same social media site."
She re-enacts the fateful night with pantomime. "Hey I'm going to bed," the catfish friend says.
"Yeah totally!" Lea tells her.
She then states that she went on this friend's home computer in order to send some messages to her long-distance boyfriend.
The clip then transitions to Lea on a computer mouse, then typing on a keyboard.
"Hmm I haven't talked to my boyfriend yet today, let me log into my account"
Then the screen turns black, white text on the screen reads: "Why's all of our boyfriends names in the username section...."
That's when Lea had a realization that probably made her heart sink. The camera then transitions to her looking utterly shocked: "*Realizes our best friend has been catfishing all of us for over a year*"
TikTokers who saw her post were invested, but Lea said she would not be further explicating the situation due to a lot of negative comments that cropped up as a result of her initial revelation on this personal discovery.
She remarked on the post: "Hey y’all, I will not be making a story time about this situation. I made videos but deleted them. One of my friend's profiles got found somehow and Was immediately flooded with hateful comments. Making this video has brought a lot of hurt, and I don’t want to make more about it since it has brought so much pain to someone I love. Regardless I love sharing my life experiences on tik tok, and am so sorry so many of y’all have gone through this as well."
Other TikTokers said that they had similar experiences while in school, while others stated that it's this exact reason as to why they always video call/facetime immediately after talking to someone that they've met online. However, as Lea pointed out, this occurred back in the MySpace/AIM days, so it's not like that was a prevalent/easily accessible option for folks then.
Have you ever been catfished? Would it hurt more if it was from a friend who was deceiving you behind your back?