The perfect catch: Catfishing at Bellevue West

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In Sept. of 2010, the film “Catfish” was released in the United States. In the documentary,

Yaniv Schulman starts an online relationship through Facebook with Megan Pierce only to learn

that the person he’s been talking to is Megan’s mother Angela Pierce.

Catfishing is the act of of creating a fake online profile to attract others.

Another case of catfishing from the other side is the Manti Te’o incident. The Notre Dame

football player and current NFL prospect told the media in September of 2012 that his girlfriend

died and he openly mourned her. On Jan. 16, Deadspin released an article informing the public that she didn’t exist.

Of 160 West students surveyed, 81.6% have had a Facebook friend or Twitter follower that

they didn’t know. One of those friends could have been Stacy Webber.

Stacy’s Facebook account was created in May 2011 and she currently has 622 friends.

Over 86.2% of West students have fewer Facebook friends than her. Stacy Webber’s isn’t a real

person and her account was actually created by five male Bellevue West students.

“The concept originally started when a friend came up with a person named Stacy as a

joke. They started texting people under that alias, and we naturally made the jump to Facebook,”

senior Alex Gangwish said.

Stacey’s profile picture was found by searching the term Bellevue East cheerleaders on

Google, though the picture does not actually portray Bellevue East cheerleaders. Despite that,

students from Bellevue West and Bellevue East continued to add Stacy.

According to “Online Dating Red Flags: Warning Signs of a Catfish” by Dr. Phil

McGraw, the fact she is a cheerleader is a warning sign for catfishing.

“As far as I remember, only a few people asked who Stacy Webber was before friending

her,” Gangwish said.

Unlike the case in “Catfish,” students figured out that Stacy didn’t exist weeks after adding

her but few figured out who exactly was behind Stacy.

“A couple people caught on almost immediately, although those people were relatively few

compared to those who added her without questioning,” Gangwish said.

Social worker Sarah Fehringer says that one of the reasons behind students adding

Facebook friends they don’t know is that it makes them seem like they have more friends. The

downside occurs when they find out their friends online aren’t who they think they are in real life.

“Possible emotional consequences could be feeling depressed, feeling sad or hopeless or to

feel like they’ve been ‘duped’ or played,” Fehringer said.

Fehringer says that, overall, fixing that problem is pretty easy and if they are catfished they

can talk to someone they trust about the instance.

“They can deal with it by only adding people they know and not adding ‘friends of

friends.’ It can be very disappointing to feel like you’ve been played,” Fehringer said.

In regards to Stacy, Gangwish thinks people added her for a simpler reason.

“I think people added Stacy because they honestly weren’t really thinking about what they

were doing. They saw an opportunity to increase their number of friends and they took it,

assuming that at some point in time they met Stacy even though that obviously wasn’t the case,”

Gangwish said.

Candi Bolden
West Wind Editor-in-Chief