You say you don’t use online dating websites. That’s fine, there’s more than one way to meet a person. But what if you started talking to someone on Facebook or Twitter or MySpace, maybe by accident, or through friends, or through mutual interest pages, and you just gradually fell into so many late night conversations with them, you eventually developed feelings? So then your feelings tell you this person is special and you want to meet them. Except a timid voice in your head says “What if they’re not who they say they are?” Maybe… they might be a catfish?

Schulman and “Megan”

A catfish is a person who creates fake online profiles and pretends to be someone they’re not by using someone else’s pictures and information. In 2010, a New York based photographer named Yaniv “Nev” Schulman fell in love with Megan, a 19 year old girl in the Midwest. They texted, sent pictures, G-chatted, Skyped, and had all those late night, sleepy phone calls. His friend and fellow filmmaker, Max Joseph, jokingly recorded Schulman’s flirtations. When Schulman decided he wanted to meet Megan in person, since he was falling hard pretty fast, they both decided they needed to document the road trip and event. Then things started to get interesting when Megan’s story started to change the closer they got to her.

But I won’t ruin the movie. I highly recommend it though. It’s eye opening and a little heart breaking. After the movie, Schulman received countless messages from people who had been through similar situations. Some were actually presently in those situations and they wanted his help. So they decided to do a TV show. Catfish: The TV Show has already had 6 episodes aired on MTV. The same people that bring you True Life now work on bringing you a docuseries, as they call it, about dating someone virtually. I’ve watched a couple episodes and I am still astounded by people’s willingness to believe what they want to believe. So far, most of the couples in the episodes have not turned out as happy as Kip and LaFonda in Napoleon Dynamite.

Nev dissecting text messages for Jasmine from her boyfriend “Mike.”

I believe this TV show covers a topic that is fast becoming a common issue: a person’s online identity. It’s ability to combine journalism, reality tv, and online relationships, makes it a great show not just for entertainment’s sake, but for education’s sake as well. It shows you the risks and rewards that can happen when you’re involved electronically with a person.

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[via Los Angeles Times]