Our love of Catfish (and Nev and Max) has made us slightly more wary of online followers, but in this day and age, safety is paramount - so we don't think that's a bad thing.
From the Urban Dictionary:
The phenomenon of internet predators that fabricate online identities and entire social circles to trick people into emotional/romantic relationships (over a long period of time).
Possible motivations: revenge, loneliness, curiosity, boredom
Here's the thing - Laura is too nice. I mean that in the nicest way, but online you have to be slightly less nice and slightly more wary. I am writing this post as a cautionary tale and not to scare. Take it or leave it, your choice, but I thought it was an experience worth sharing.
Our blog has first and foremost been a space to share what's going on with us with anyone who is interested. It started as a project for our family abroad and has grown and evolved in a number of different of directions. The full story of our lives can be tracked through the blog - but at a highlight level in most cases. Couple this with our Instagram and you get a more daily dose of us :) add in Twitter and you'll find I love a good rant about trains and a re-tweet of anything LGBT related, and finally if you want even more of us you can head to our Facebook page that keeps track of all posts.
We may be slightly over-exposed online, but as it's all managed centrally it's easy for us to update and we have different audiences on each social media platform so it works well for us.
We don't know if Facebook, as the most established platform, has the widest viewer range, or if it is easy to find our page. It doesn't really matter. On Facebook you can receive public messages and over the years we have received the loveliest messages, photo-shopped images of us and on occasion some hatred. In the main though it has been positive so we have left the option open to message us.
However, when people start searching and adding our personal Facebook accounts I personally draw the line, unless we know the person pretty well from an online point of view. Laura is a little more open and has accepted friend requests in the past. In most cases this has been absolutely fine but in the case of one individual this allowed contact on a whole new level.
Instagram is also a source of random messages. Again our experiences have been both positive and negative but on this platform to a more extreme level. The positives are that we have made and met genuinely amazing friends through firstly comments on pics, then moving to messaging before eventually meeting up. The negatives are the number of accounts that spam us or are created just to send homophobic abuse.
It was on Instagram that our catfish story begins.
A few weeks ago, a new account was created to send us a message saying 'you are disgusting gross gays'. We ignored the message and a few days later the same account commented on a picture saying 'can I ask you a question'. On seeing the comment we deleted it, and decided to block the account.
The next week a new account started following us that looked to be posting photos of photos, and a lot of the same photos. There is nothing wrong with that, but we noticed as it seemed odd. In this day and age posting a photo straight from a phone is almost easier that taking a picture of a photo. We thought nothing more of it until the account started posting 'can I ask you question' on our pictures. This account was very complimentary, but then started messaging us on Instagram asking us to email them. It was all a bit strange.
It just so happened that at the same time the random who had added Laura and subsequently me on Facebook started sending the same message via FB messenger. The only thing was that the person on Facebook was a man. The Instagram account was a lesbian, posting photos of her and her girlfriend.
|Loving Nev's face!|
A quick search on her FB page showed she was very much with a guy and the tone and style of writing didn't match our messages. A scroll further and the same guy who had friended us had commented 'can I ask you a question'.
Boom! We had our confirmation that this guy was behind the lesbian Instagram account.
We Facebook messaged the girl to let her know about the Instagram account and she had it promptly shut down. It turned out that guy had been harassing her and her family on social media and so she had blocked him. The Instagram account was potentially revenge.
We then followed suit and blocked the guy on every platform we could.
It is not clear what the reason for contacting us was, why emailing him was a requirement or if there was any malice. It started as fairly innocent messaging and didn't go into anything inappropriate (although we have had a few of those requests) but it does show that you have to be careful.
In the case of this girl the Instagram set up with her photos was following 500+ accounts, mostly lesbian couples. We know that he was messaging at least one other account and had commented on other photos. It's just awful to think her identity was being associated with something she had nothing to do with.
Having watched Catfish we know that it could have been way worse. As in most cases, the guy was probably lonely. The stories he had made up were easy to pull apart and while we tried to be kind the messaging was an interference. We don't message our family as often as he messaged us.
Have you ever been catfished?