Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Alli Reed Catfishes Openly As An "Experiment"

Alli Reed Catfishes Openly As An "Experiment"

I'm not sure why, but you won't read about Alli Reed catfishing openly anywhere else online, and I find that interesting. For those who don't know, catfishing is when someone pretends to be someone they aren't by creating online deception through fakery and douchebaggery that can range from trumped up profiles and photos to personal likes and dislikes. It's everywhere you go these days online, but more commonly found in online dating sites where people are trying to meet other people to form honest, legitimate relationships. I've posted about it here on the blog several times, and I made it a focus in my novel, The Silicon Valley Sex Scandal that was released last summer. In my story the main character is a Silicon Valley billionaire who is trying to stop all forms of catfishing. And yet no one seems to think that what Alli Reed did warrants any discussion about catfishing, in general, to talk about the moral and ethical standards related to catfishing. You can spin it and mix it by calling it an "experiment." But it is what it is.

Evidently, Allie Reed frequents online dating sites and she got tired of the way men reply to certain online profiles at the web site, OKCupid, so she created a fake identity that includes all the worst forms of catfishing ever imagined online and she's calling it an experiment. She created this fake profile...which I would imagine is against the TOS of OKCupid...in order to bait men with facts about her fake life that often sound more outrageous than real to me. When her goal to be so hideous garnered more than 150 responses in a day's time, she responded this way:


Her new goal was to get the men to stop messaging her back, and her first response tactic was to be so 'unforgivably awful' by doing things like pretending to be a 14-year-old on Facebook to make fun of her sister's friends because 'LMAOOOOO bullying is fun.'

But one man hit straight back with: 'Lol your so funny. hahaha. you a sexy devil lol :) so dose ur sis know about it? Any plans for the weekend? Btw what's ur number so we can text?

While there's no defense for the way the men allegedly responded to Reed's fakery, even though I have a feeling most suspected she was catfishing and decided to laugh at her and not with her, the fact that she openly catfished this way deserves to at least be mentioned because what she did is something millions of people working and socializing online have been trying to avoid completely. It's a very serious matter. Catfishing is one of the worst aspects of modern society and many people have been burned as a result. There's even a TV show based on real life stories about people who have gone through the horrors of catfishing. The TV show's web site defines it this way:

catfish [kat-fish] verb: To pretend to be someone you're not online by posting false information, such as someone else's pictures, on social media sites usually with the intention of getting someone to fall in love with you.

Reed also posted fake online photos using a friend's image. I'm not joking about this. Here is one of Alli Reed's conclusions after her experiment in catfishing:

'For example, I could extrapolate from my data that men have been so deeply socialized to value women solely on their appearance that many of them seem unable to take any other aspect of who she is, such as intelligence or capacity for self-reflection or suffocating douchiness, into account.'

You know what, she can extrapolate anything she wants but what she did deserves more discussion about how easy it is to catfish and less pats on the back. And someone in the mainstream media should have been aware enough about online issues we're all facing these days to pick this up and discuss it. Because men aren't the only ones who reply to morally challenged ads online. Anyone who ever went to an online poker site knows this well. And trust me on this, women are far from innocent when it comes to online behavior in a general sense. And I've seen THAT first hand many times in the form of sockpuppetry. My rule is never trust anyone or anything online until I know for certain I'm not being duped.

I look at it this way. If I were to get into my car and bait other drivers with road rage, as an "experiment" to see how men or women react to road rage, I would not only be committing a crime but I would also be violating basic morals and ethics, not to mention putting people in danger. And I don't think we should take anything that happens online less seriously because emotional danger is as significant as physical danger. And catfishing is a serious issue we're all dealing with nowadays and Alli Reed just confirmed how little people know about it and how easily it can happen to anyone. That does NOT deserve a pat on the back from the media, without mention. It deserves to be mentioned and talked about. If anything, I wish Reed's experiment had been focused more on catfishing than gender politics.

You can read more here. And if you do a simple search with Reed's name you'll find several other articles, including a video at Huff Po where they never once mention that Reed catfished. I "get" what Reed was trying to accomplish and I don't support the way some men behave online, but I also don't support catfishing and online fakery either. What disturbs me the most is how well Reed created her online deception and how naturally it came to her...and how some don't think there's anything wrong here.  I don't know about anyone else, but I wouldn't have the skills to do something like that without a good deal of practice first.

There's even a forum out there where other people have admitted to doing the same catfish experiment themselves. All use fake identities on the forum. And I can't help wondering that if someone who is good can create such a rotten fake persona online there's nothing stopping someone who is really rotten from creating a good fake persona, too.

Watch everything these days and never assume anything.

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