Monday, 19 June 2017

What is a CATFISH?

I learnt a new word over the weekend. That word was catfish. Before you say that I should I know what a catfish and it is something like the picture below:

Apparently there is a new meaning for it. To catfish is a term used in the United States of America in which you lure someone into a relationship by using a fictional online persona.

I learnt this term by watching this video on YouTube.

Let me see if I can explain this video. It took me a while to figure it myself and that was after reading some articles about it online. Even now I'm trying to work out how to explain it to you, the reader.

The two main characters at first were Paris Dylan, an aspiring model in Southern California and Chris Andersen, a NBA basketball player who at the time played for the Denver Nuggets.

They struck up a relationship online, so much that Paris jumped on a plane to go and visit Andersen in Colorado. When they met they hit it off and got on well. However there were some strange things going on. Paris thought that Chris's best friend was Tom Taylor but Chris had never heard of Tom. Paris thought it was a little weird but brushed it off.

At the time, Paris was 17 years old. Under Colorado law a sexual relationship was OK but they had sent nude photos to each other and because she was under 18 then technically Chris Andersen could be arrested for child pornography.

At the time, Chris Andersen's name was been drawn through the mud and people thought of him as a child molester and all sorts of other bad things.

Unfortunately, both Chris Andersen and Paris Dylan were the victims in an international catfishing scheme that was traced to a tiny town in the Canadian wilderness.

(Below is the video that I watched from ABC News. This might be able to explain the situation better than I can.)

The perpetrator turned out to be a 33 year old woman in a tiny town in the Canadian province of Manitoba, (the catfish).

Shelly Chartier orchestrated this whole scheme from her home in Easterville, Manitoba, Canada. She pretended to be Chris Andersen, she pretended to be Paris Dylan and she pretended to be Tom Taylor. Apparently she had orchestrated three other schemes in the years prior.

In the video, Chartier is shown as a shy 33 year old woman who lives in a tiny town and who looks after her bedridden mother. She says that at one stage she didn't leave the house for 11 years and the only form of entertainment was the internet. (You can read my post about the Japanese social phenomenon, hikkikomori here.)

When I was watching this video I was thinking more and more that it is very easy to immerse yourself in the online world and to basically get your kicks there rather than out in the real society. It is very easy to hide behind your computer screen and live your fantasies and what have you vicariously.

Chartier said that she was bullied at school, that she was very shy and in a strange sort of way the 12 months she spent in prison were definitely of benefit to her because she had to learn how to socialise. She had to learn how to interact with other people.

The victims Chris Andersen and Paris Dylan seemed to have got on with their lives wth Andersen winning a NBA championship with the Miami Heat and Dylan creating a successful social media presence. That's great that they were both able to bounce back and I hope that the whole story won't affect them later in life.

I also hope that Chartier has learned that you do need people around you sometimes. You don't have to be the life and soul of the party but from time to time you are going to need help and remember there is no harm in asking for help from time to time. It doesn't make you weak or for men any less of a man. (It is OK to ask for directions. You don't want to get lost, do you?)

In this story I can sympathise with all of the people. Dylan and Andersen were victims and they believer that Chartier should be extradited to America to face charges which could see her spend up to 24 years in jail. I can understand the former pair asking for that sentence as their lives were changed forever. In that sense Chartier should face some kind of punishment, however I hope that she has learned that there are people out there who care abut her and that not everyone is a bully and she doesn't have to hide herself away from the world forever.

Neither do you by the way. There are good people out there and they are willing to help you. When you learn that, your life can change for the better.

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