Movie “Catfish” Chronicles Dangerous On-Line Dreams and Deception

Posted on October 9, 2010

ABC’s 20/20 examined the background of the 3 young photographer friends who photographed and video taped everything – each other, their environment – everything and hourly it seemed.

Their most noteworthy project was filming one of their own, Nev.  He had befriended an 8-year-old girl on MySpace.  Before he knew it, he had befriended her entire family and circle of friends – a total of 15 people.  Then “Abbey” revealed that she was a painter and started sending him her paintings that rendered her a prodigy.  Some of he paintings were of her family – Her mother, Angela, and a sister, 19-year-old Megan.

Nev fell in love with Megan and even got to the point where he talked with her on the phone. It led to the three amigos traveling to the heartland to meet Megan and company.  But what he reached was the realm of a woman, Angela, who was Schizophrenic.  She used the fragments of her personality to create all  of the characters she and Nev shared in common except Abbey.  But the joy of the deception came at a high cost: she ended back in intensive psychotherapy and cannot continue her deceptions on-line.

When they finally met and the mask was off, it  was extremely uncomfortable to see Nev actually ask Angela to speak to him as Megan.  It was so strange it had you thinking … was this whole thing a set up deal?  Was Angela in on the production of a movie?  Why did Nev seriously befriend the 8-year-old Abbey?  Wouldn’t it have been easy enough for law enforcement to have taken off after him as an on-line predator?

The lesson for us other users is simply that you cannot fully trust who you are talking with anywhere on-line at any given time.  All you really see is an avatar ( a picture the accompanies your on-line identity). You cannot ever be certain who is on the other side of that monitor.  This is the high level of deception that the internet can offer.  And it can be dangerous – to your emotions or to your person.  Angela had a sobering reality check about her emotional condition.  Sadly, it is uncertain that New ever realized the depth and complication of her illness.  If this is the genuine article, then poor New will have a long recovery.  He really loved Megan but Megan was just an empty avatar.

Here is the trailer for “Catfish.”