A gay man has given an illuminating interview on why he catfished others online.
Catfishing is when someone poses as someone they are not, or who uses photos of someone else instead of who they really are. The term comes from a 2010 documentary that explored this phenomenon.
YouTube star Davey Wavey recently put out a call looking for a catfish to interview.
He posted on Facebook: ‘I’m looking to anonymously interview a gay guy who has catfished on apps like Grindr. I’m not interested in portraying you like a monster, but as someone who is misunderstood. I want to know your reasons, your story and what motivates you.’
Davey has now posted a video interview with a man who contacted him. The man’s identity has been hidden.
The anonymous interviewee said it began during his last semester at college. He went to visit a female friend at Princeton, New Jersey, and they’d gone out drinking. He didn’t pick up, and consequently felt depressed.
‘I went online and to Grindr or whatever app I was using at the time, and still no-one would hit me up or talk to me. I always figured it was [because] I was heavier. I used to get really hard on myself when it came to how I looked, so I made a fake profile.
‘And the messages flew in.
‘With this fake profile I would talk to people who I would message originally as myself, and they would send me anything that I asked for. It was crazy.
‘It’s really stupid and it makes no sense’
‘When I look back at it now, I think it’s really stupid and it makes no sense to me but I had never been in a relationship, never really dated anyone. I wanted to figure out why. I always had this idea in my head it was because I was too fat. And I was ugly.
‘In that moment when I was lonely gay boy in college, yeah, it was great to get these photos of pretty good looking men. But they don’t want me. They want this person who doesn’t exist.
‘My experience in dating in the gay community is pretty non-existent my whole life. I’ve never been in a relationship. I’ve never gotten past a first date with a guy. I get liking what you like, but I don’t think people are as open to change. Cause people go “you have an amazing personality, but…you’re overweight.”
‘There’s more than just what’s on the surface and I don’t think enough people understand that or give it time.
He said he wished people gave others more of an opportunity for engagement before rushing to dismiss them.
‘I don’t know anyone else that has done this before, but I think it’s purely to try and feel like they’re wanted. To see what it feels like to be called gorgeous.
He said that receiving blunt messages of rejection (‘fuck off’, ‘no fats’) had led him down this path.
‘The emotions that I felt when I got those messages manifested into this. It’s a last hope maybe that someone will still love me even those it’s not really them.
He said he was speaking out in the hope that he might change the behavior of those who reject others.
‘If people who see this and they don’t necessarily see me as a horrible person or villain then maybe I hope the message will get across: give that guy a chance. Get to know them before you say ‘no’ because of the way their body is.
‘Be more open to venture outside that box that you have set in your mind of the man you want to be with looks like, because you could be surprised.’
Davey Wavey said, ‘I wanted to be angry at this guy – and guys like him – for being deceptive and doing what they do online. Instead, I found myself angry at the role that I’ve played – that we’ve all played – in making people like this man feel invisible.’
‘It’s not just what is on the inside’
The video has prompted much comment online. One YouTube viewer, Will Dempsey commented that he too had struggled with body issues, so he could emphasize with the interviewee, but could not agree with everything he said.
‘We cannot control our physical attraction and to some extent it’s not just what is on the inside. However, gay men, for the most part, have to stop being so rude at how they deal with this.’
Others pointed out the negative effect catfishing could have on those on the receiving end.
‘I totally get where he is coming from,’ said YouTube user Ohaiitsurrn. ‘But having been catfished, it’s kind of the worst feeling. Being lied to and taken advantage of.’
Others were less sympathetic, pointing out that most people who are rejected online don’t turn to catfishing. Others took him to task over stealing the photos of others.
‘How did he feel about the man whose photos he appropriated?’ said Robert La Mont. ‘It was a form of identity theft which might have caused the victim embarrassment or difficulty with a partner.’