We have heard the horror stories of cyberbullying over the past several years, and they never get easier to hear. Catfishing is an extended branch of online harassment that takes cruelty to a new level.
I want to share with you how a computer and digital forensic examiner would confirm / dispute Te'o's story. Hiring a competent computer and digital forensic examiner could help uncover unknown evidence which could be used to confirm/dispute an alleged victim's statement.
This story can be spun in dozens of ways. But one thing clearly emerges for me: Humans are vulnerable; we create our reality indirectly, using words and images, building on dreams. By our nature, our language permits the twinned characteristics of fiction and deception.
Online impersonation with the intent of engaging in a relationship is becoming more common. Similar to identity theft, catfishing is when someone "assumes" a real person's identity and/or creates a new online persona to engage in an online relationship.
If the Notre Dame linebacker at the center of the "girlfriend hoax" story indeed constructed an elaborate cover story for his gay closet, as so many gay men do in worlds that demand they be heterosexual, the emotional jolt of humiliation and embarrassment at being exposed will be overwhelming.
The desire to be a certain way, or for others to be what we hope them to be, may just override a basic expectation of truth from the people around us. As long as the Internet allows, these people will continue to lie, and their highest hope is that they find a soul mate who will believe them.
It doesn't surprise me that singles looking for love online on MTV's Catfish have their hopes at an all-time high, but I wonder, why wait so long to meet in real life if you think you've found your soul mate?
Southerners may think the fried catfish they lunch on is locally grown but it could be pulled out of a basket in Vietnam's Mekong River. Louisiana's catfish industry is shrinking. And federal budget tightening has killed several attempts to help catfish producers.
Of the four members in The Kingston Springs, only drummer Matt DeMaio has ever actually caught a catfish. But that doesn't stop the band from going down to the Harpeth River every day to wet a line and relax on the shore.