Catfish: Remixing the Profiles of Real People to Create New Ones

By May 23, 2014 May 6th, 2016 Digital Media Context

Catfish, the documentary film, explores the interesting and mysterious side of social networking. In the film we see Nev Schulman develop a relationship through Facebook and the events that run up to where they first meet.

The situation Nev finds himself in the end is bizarre, disturbing, and yet oddly sweet. Assuming you’ve seen the film I want to talk about the premise further. It was shown in the film how easy it was for Angela to create these characters. I refer to them as characters as the situation felt like Angela was playing a game, and the character creation menu was simply the wealth of pre-existing information on the internet. Like a DJ she was simply just remixing what was there already.

The profiles for the fictional people she created were so well connected that it tricks Nev but also the audience for a good portion of the film. While only photos are exchanged between them, the phone calls are unsettling when you think back on them.

There is also a TV series that continued on from this, with Nev and the filmmakers exposing truths and lies on social networks. It follows the same concept as the movie, with Nev interviewing a person who claims to have an online relationship. They then document the meeting which as you might have guessed is not always truthful.

But why do some people feel the need to bend the truth online? Is it perhaps it’s unbelievably easy to do so? All it takes is you to say one lie for someone else to believe it on the other side of the world. Or perhaps it’s that online socialising can only tell you so much about a person and the rest is left up to the other person to fill in the gaps? Catfish definitely highlights how social media can be manipulated and fabricated with ease.

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