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Updated by Kendra Brea Cooper on Sep 23, 2016
Headline for Falling in Love with No Body: 10 Ways the Catfish Television Show Exposes Our Online Life
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Falling in Love with No Body: 10 Ways the Catfish Television Show Exposes Our Online Life

Catfish the MTV docu-show is based on a documentary of the same name by Nev Schulman. Nev and Max host this show about the risks we take while falling in love on the internet. They research the people involved and introduce them in person. The term "catfish" refers to someone who sets up a false online identity to catch the attention of other users. In these stories we learn about the complicated nature of identity, our love for fantasy, and the evolving qualities of "real life".
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Absence of a Body and the Re-Creation of Another

Absence of a Body and the Re-Creation of Another
We can communicate with each other through this technology without the presence of a body or even the sound of a voice. It's still real to us none the less. We know that there must be another body on the other end, so everything in between is the evidence of life.

Even when we talk about those who have passed on in our society, we speak of their bodies as separate from their selves.

But even when we post photos of our real selves, they are chosen and can be taken down at our own disposal. We can construct a new body or carefully control the image of the one we already have.
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Connection

Connection
This show proves that you can feel a deep connection to another human being without the presence of a body, at first anyway. After a while, someone will start looking for that flesh and bone to attach to all of those fragments of personality left online.
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Social Media

Social Media
Social Media isn't something that just sits outside of our "real" life. It is intertwined with the life away from the screen. Through social media, we build an identity that is always there to visit, even when our living breathing selves are not.
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Identity

Identity
In Lynn Hershman's essay "Romancing the Anti-Body: Love and Longing in (Cyber)space" , she states:

"One of the more diabolical elements of entering CMC (Computer Mediated Communication) or Virtual Reality is that people can only recognize each other when they are electronically disguised. Truth is precisely based on the inauthentic!
Masks and self-disclosures are part of the grammar of cyberspace. It is the syntax of the culture of computer-mediated identity which, by the way, can include simultaneous multiple identities, or identities that abridge and dislocate gender and age."

The online love connection is a process of controlled revealing. But while it stays online, one can reveal forever without ever actually exposing themselves. In the Catfish television show, Nev and Max use web technology to search for the "truth" and they find ways of exposing through research.

But what is identity? Is the self non-evolving, solid, and secure? Can we ever fully know the true identity of someone else?
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Online Life

Online Life
While it's a violating experience to find out the person you have such a connection to isn't who they say they are, it's equally as violating to have your photo, the evidence of your own existence, stolen for the performance of another identity.

The thing about online profiles is that they take on a life of their own even when a body isn't present to control it from behind a keyboard.

Information is tracked, stored, viewed, and used. It is there performing your identity, even when you are not. In the online world, it seems like nothing dies.
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Stories

Stories
The internet gives us the opportunity to create our own narratives, kind of like a visual novel. Just like a conversation, we pick and choose what we want people to know, but we have more control without a body and a community that is geographically close. You can be both exposed and completely anonymous at the same time.
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What Defines Us

What Defines Us

In her essay "A Cyborg Manifesto", theorist Donna Haraway discusses, among other things, how technology has been breaking down the competitive binaries between constructs such as man/woman and natural/artificial. The use of social media technology to meet and fall in love (something we normally consider a fleshy and bodied head-to-toe experience), has blurred the lines between the artificial aspect of technology and the seemingly organic experience of love.

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Attention to the Screen

Attention to the Screen
Our screens are everywhere. We can connect to the internet through our televisions, gaming systems, and smartphones. We don't schedule time in our days to check Facebook, because it's always there giving us updates while we're on the bus or at the library. A date and a conversation online is something we do all day long, regardless of schedules.
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Time and Conversations

Time and Conversations
Time is different online. What might seem like an awkward gap and silence in person, is only considered the appropriate response time in the online world. You have time to think about what you're going to say. Usually you're funnier, smarter, and better at conversing online. The strange ticks are masked and the body language is non-existent. Grammar isn't taken seriously, and new languages are developed.
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Emotional Impacts and Broken Hearts

Emotional Impacts and Broken Hearts
Part of the show explores the impact of a broken heart after the hopeful searcher finds out the person they love isn't who they thought they were (sometimes because of stolen photos, other times a different identity all together). Even if the person they fell for through conversation is still the same for the most part, the betrayal of the performance leaves the person feeling empty, angry, and embarrassed. The fantasy is shattered.