Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Chapter 2; a disclaimer, a definition, a description


It all started with a tweet. A follow, to be precise. I always wonder how many slander, defamation of character or libel cases start with that line these days. A follow soon turned into a quick stalk, on my part. What I saw was more than pleasing to the eye; a beautiful boy. Alarm bells should have rang, but they didn’t.  I’m going to look into the psychology of what makes beautiful people less likely to act like criminals; I had a teacher who always told us that he was taught ‘when reprimanding, never look into the eyes of the pretty ones.’ Things snowballed; soon, it was direct messaging. Then it moved to Facebook. Every day there were new messages; mutual followings on Instagram, Tumblr, Whatsapp, Soundcloud – you name it, we were on it, and we had each other. Eventually, true progression. ‘Can I text you?’ The swapping of numbers. How could I have resisted that romance? 

Before you go thinking that I’m some psychopath that is craving love enough to a) hallucinate herself into thinking that she has an actual boyfriend or b) completely fabricate a relationship to make her Facebook page look better, you should know that I am perfectly sane, and have never been in an extra-ordinary relationship with another person. I’m not technologically kinky. I don’t get ‘turned on’ by iMessage, I don’t sleep with my phone, nor am I a massive advocator for the sexting fad – frankly I find it dangerous (read this sentence back at the end of the article and how you will find yourself snorting at the irony – I will) I am a normal 18 year old girl, and this time last year, I was a normal 17 year old schoolgirl, finishing my last year of education, looking forward massively to the prospect of higher fulfillment. I was simply and unwillingly caught up in the vastly popular and emotionally exploitative modern day trend: Catfishing.

For those of you who don’t know what Catfish is, I strongly advise you to watch the MTV program (and also crawl out from under your rock) If you don’t have time - or like many of the other students – the resources, then I’ll give you a simple definition here. A catfish, by urban dictionary standards, is
“…Someone who pretends to be someone they're not using Facebook or other social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances.” If you want a proper, in depth and professional description of Catfishing, then you should read Lisa Shaw’s article, adequately titled ‘What is Catfishing and Why You Should Care.’
If you’re wondering why the concept is named as it is, the original Catfishes husband conveniently describes it for us. Vince Pierce gives this quote: “They used to tank cod from Alaska all the way to China. They’d keep them in vats in the ship. By the time the codfish reached China, the flesh was mush and tasteless. So this guy came up with the idea that if you put these cods in these big vats, put some catfish in with them and the catfish will keep the cod agile. And there are those people who are catfish in life. And they keep you on your toes. They keep you guessing, they keep you thinking, they keep you fresh. And I thank god for the catfish.”

My definition is a bit simpler; to be a catfish is a trendy new thing where you emotionally and even sometimes physically exploit someone because you’re bored. Or you’re lonely. You may be suffering from a mental illness, like mine claimed to be, or chronic loneliness, boredom or addiction (to your computer) Or maybe you’re just a downright nasty person who enjoys doing that sort of thing. In the end, it’s just a pretty shitty thing to do to someone. And me being me, who always attracted the sort of messed up and baggage laden kind, as well as the dodgy guy at the bus stop, the drunkard in the street, or the bird poo flying in the air, am easy meat for a person like that.

For a year and half I unwittingly participated in what I call my own ‘emotional molestation' and I am not ashamed to say that I want justice...so I find myself here.  I am going to tell you my story, so that I can help the others who are in my position. So I can encourage other people who are, or have been, in my position to speak out about their experiences and know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE - and so that I can discourage anyone from entering so wholeheartedly into such an agreement that you don’t have the facilities to read the small print, but ultimately to offer you my story in this state of catharsis to raise awareness of the extreme vulnerability you impose upon yourself every time you accept that person you don’t know on Facebook, or message that true follower on twitter. In opening the door to your virtual community, you can simultaneously open the door to your life, and anybody can walk in. You wouldn’t open your front door to a stranger, would you?

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Chapter 1: If You Leave



18th of March 2014.

“A year ago today Daughter released their ten-track debut album ‘If You Leave’.
Thank you to everyone who has supported the record over the past 12 months. Here's ‘Smother’, the first single to be taken from the album.”
                                                                                    -Daughter’s Facebook PR team

A year. 
What is a year to a person?
It was a year ago today that I sat in my darkened hallway to listen to this album. You could say that I had the tissues out, but firstly, I’m nowhere near prepared enough for that, and secondly, I don’t know anyone who carries about a packet of tissues at the ripe old age of 17. But on the 18th of March 2013, I found myself with the (metaphorical) tissues at the ready in preparation to listen to Daughter’s new release. It was to be ‘our’ album. Smother was ‘our’ song.

Does this sound familiar to you? It’s your typical teenage angst and your typical teenage break-up. When I think about how clich├ęd I was, I want to throw up as well. You are not alone. But please, I beg of you, stay with me -at least until the next paragraph.
If You Leave, as ridiculous and simultaneously pathetic as it sounds, was my last chance. My last hope – the last rope I had to hold onto, frayed and splitting as it was, to pull me back to the shore. It was the last anchor in the sea of distance that was holding me to the boy that I loved; and under this wave of pretense and sick anticipation, it was the last mode of contact that I clung to. Or better yet, it was the last thing of sentimental value that I had that would ignite his motivation to contact me again. This sounds normal, doesn’t it? A heartbroken girl makes the linear arrangements in her distraught head of the events bearing sentimentality, in the hope that it would be enough to have her other half pick up the phone, and give her that call that she so desperately sought for.

There was no call. There never was any call. That too is normal. But what if I told you that when I say there was never any call, I mean there was never any call – not at any point in the year and a half relationship? Never any face to face (or voice to voice) communication? This person that I so loved – you guessed it – I had never actually seen before. He wasn’t real; to the living, breathing, human world, he simply did not exist.

***

I'm Carla, from Glasgow. I'm currently almost at the end of my first year at University studying English Literature, and one day I hope to be a writer. In my last year of school, starting when I was 16 (and a half) and ending when i was 17 (and a half!!) I was 'Catfished.' This means that I embarked on an emotional relationship with someone whom I had never met - and yep, you guessed it - this person (I don't think) was real. Or at least, they weren't who they said they were. This happened ago a year ago this week.

I've decided to start writing about my story for a number of reasons. I thought that the memory of this betrayal I have suffered at the hands of today's modern day technology would evaporate almost as quickly as the person behind it did; I was wrong. The prospect of Catfishing is something that is becoming more and more popular today - even the CSI I watched tonight was about it. It's so big in today's society that even MTV has a programme about it - it's all about supply and demand, and I hope that in giving you this, a part of me that is still quite raw and close to the surface, that I can help put a stop to others using the internet and it's anonymity as a platform for exploitation. 

Over the next few weeks, i'm planning on releasing a variety of articles about 'Catfishing' to raise awareness of the dangers of the internet for young people. Yeah, I know that it sounds really tedious, like i'm one of those people who come and give school talks. But the difference is that this happened to me. I personally went through and was a victim of the internet, something which is a saviour and a killer for all of us. I'm also going to post on this blog, bit by bit, my story, and any developments I have that come from this. You could say it is my way of dealing with what happened to me (and it is cathartic, i cannot lie!) but ultimately I want to help put a stop to this, and make sure that no one is put in the same position as I was. There is no excuse for emotional exploitation in today's society. 

So please follow me in this! All I ask is that you read with an open mind, try not to judge,  and share my posts - I want to prove to myself and others that the internet can be used as something positive; something good for us all. This is a new development of mine and i'm not too sure where it's going to head. But all I ask is that you join me in spreading awareness of both the pros and cons of using social media so that maybe even one less person is in my position, and that i'm not alone on my road to finding closure for this ordeal. 

Thanks so much!
Carla.