The first rule of Catfish is, don't talk about Catfish. A cautionary tale about the pitfalls of social networking, this documentary, co-directed by Ariel Shulman and Henry Joost, delivers a far greater punch if you go in knowing as little about it as possible.
In 2008, Nev Shulman, brother of the director, commenced an online friendship with a woman named Angela. The impetus? Her 8-year-old daughter, Abby, produced a painting of one of Nev's photographs which had appeared in a newspaper. Nev, both flattered and impressed by Abby's talent, soon found himself drawn into the lives of Angela and Abby, and falling for Megan, Angela's 19-year-old daughter.
Nev and Megan, began a virtual, long distance (he's a New Yorker; she was in Michigan) relationship, consisting of Facebook and text messages and the occasional phone call. And then . . . . I'll say no more, lest I spoil the surprises that lie in wait.
Even before the advent of Facebook, the internet was already a place where people could connect – befriend, chat – with anyone, anywhere in the world. It also provides the perfect opportunity to become anyone – someone – else. That misrepresentation (fraud? deceit?) isn't always meant with malicious intent, but everyone should be aware that what is said online, especially between people who have never met, needs to be taken with a healthy dose of salt.
As avowed non-Facebook user, part of me responds to the events detailed in Catfish with a 'reap what you sew' sense of schadenfreude, and an emphatic, 'well, der!' But that isn't to say I'm without empathy for Angela and her ilk; people whose lives may be dreary, unrewarding or merely in need of infrequent respites from every day reality.
On the other hand, might I suggest people take some time out from Facebook, and other online preoccupations (and, yes, I'm aware of the irony of a blogger suggesting as such), and make some real friends?