By Erica Staab
The summer before his junior year in high school Andrew*, a University of Kansas sophomore studying philosophy and political science, meet a girl online who, for three years, strung him along with a fake social media page and stolen selfies. Andrew was Catfished.
I have always been a pretty solitary guy, preferring to spend my time in the company of those in cyberspace. I like chatting online with friends I make while playing video games, and avoiding the pressure and intimacy that comes with relationships built offline.
It seemed so simple the day I hit “Add Friend.” Casey Simon immediately caught my eye on the “Beutiful Teen” contest page on Facebook with her smile, long brown hair, green eyes and attractive makeup.
The little red notification of this girl from Louisiana accepting my friend request popped up quickly, and we immediately began facebook messaging, which lead to texting and phone calls. She thought I was funny. I made her laugh and our relationship built from there. For me, the relationship started as a simple friendship. Then, as the attention she was giving me became more insistent, our relationship became more intimate.
We texted all day, every day. Each night ending in a two or three hour long phone conversation. Some nights I would fall asleep to her voice with my cell phone pressed to my ear. She began to claim me as her boyfriend, and because I have always been an easy going guy, I went along with this long distance, online, romantic relationship. I guess you could say I liked the attention too.
I didn’t have many friends in high school and I’ve always naturally distanced myself from everyone, including my family. Casey was someone that I let into my life more than most people, even though I continued to distance myself from her to an extent.
I had my reservations. From the beginning I had my doubts that she was actually the girl in photos posted on her Facebook page. Each time I questioned her identity, she got upset with me.
She became jealous of my real world relationships and insisted that I give her the password to my Facebook page in order to keep tabs on me. But that wasn’t enough. She sent messages to my friends from school, asking questions about me and my whereabouts. She got angry if I talked to any of my female friends. I secluded myself from almost everyone except her to make her happy.
Even though I wanted to make her happy, I wasn’t about to let a girl 1,000 miles away keep me from talking to the friends that I did have in my life. I would try to hide it from her but I have always been a bad liar and would end up telling her the truth. She was always pissed about me talking to other people.
When we both eventually got iPhones, I started asking her to Facetime with me. She refused every time I asked. She would send me selfies of herself when prompted, but they were always the pictures of the girl from her Facebook page. She got extremely upset by me continuing to ask about her identity and began erasing her existence from the internet.
About a year and half after meeting her, she deleted her Facebook page. I knew this was sketchy but decided to shrug it off and continue talking to her despite my friends and family telling me she wasn’t who she said she was. My parents would joke that Casey must actually be a man.
At this point, I didn’t really care too much about her, despite going along with the relationship. She admitted to cheating on me multiple times. Most people wouldn’t have put up with her behavior and antics, but because of my secluded personality, it was hard to push away someone who had been in my life for so long. She was very much apart of my daily routine.
By the time I came to KU as a freshman, my relationship with Casey was rocky and had become on again/off again. Yet she continued to monitor my life and blow up my phone daily. It was harder to meet her needy demands while at college. I became increasingly busy with my school work and she just wasn’t a priority. Casey was not happy with any of this but wouldn’t let the relationship die, even though I had begun to try to cut her out of my life.
This last summer, before the start of my sophomore year, I decided to do some digging on who “Casey” really was. With the urging of my roommates, I did a search of her cell phone number, and discovered that her real name is Victoria. I did a little more sleuthing, and searched her name and the school she supposedly graduated from. I found her graduation video online and sent it to her. I thought it was funny at this point, but she was very upset.
The scam was over and I now knew the actual identity of the girl I had been talking to for three years. Victoria wasn’t the slender, green eyed girl from the pictures I had seen. She was quite the opposite actually. Apparently everything else she had told me about her life was true. I wasn’t really shocked and was glad I had tried to keep somewhat of a distance from her emotionally.
Despite me knowing who she truly is, Victoria continued to cyber-stalk me and contact me even though I told her that I no longer wanted anything to do with her. I have her blocked on nearly everything, but she still finds ways to harass me. She calls and texts me from an unavailable number nearly every day, and if I don’t pick up or reply she will just spam my phone with messages until late hours of the night. She stills persists that I’m her best friend.
Though I wasn’t devastated from this experience like most people probably would have been, I know that what Victoria did to me has effected how I view future relationships. I am extremely cautious and withdrawn when it comes to relationships naturally, but now I might be even more wary about who I let into my life.
Being catfished hasn’t kept me away from meeting people online. In today’s society, meeting someone online is the norm. I have Tinder like everyone else. I try to be aware of who is fake, and who isn’t. But that’s the one of the huge dangers of the internet: you never know for sure who is on the other side of the screen.