Not so long ago I moved to Spain to study. Before starting lessons I met my family living in Barcelona. I met a cousin, who's about my age, so naturally we went to get some drinks together. She introduced me to some of her friends and we had a nice time. Her friends were nice as well and would ask all sorts of things about life back at home and spot the cultural differences. One of the questions that came into the conversation was about the usage of dating apps. Honestly, I didn’t know what to answer. I had never used one nor intended to do so. The only thing I was able to answer was that I had a friend who used Tinder just for fun, but that he had never actually met any of the girls he had matched with. To my surprise, these girls were avid users of these apps, and one claimed she had met the love of her life through it.
The evening passed and I returned to my aunt’s place. I must confess that while I was trying to fall asleep I got really curious about these apps and I downloaded Tinder, the one I had heard about the most. When it came to filling in with my information and photos, I started to have doubts. Should I put all my info? Perhaps not, I didn't know if it was safe. What about pictures? I’m not really a model-like woman, and I don’t really mean to actually hook up with someone. So I didn’t really upload anything photoshopped or somehow edited, but to be honest, I didn’t upload those unflattering photos. I chose those I thought I looked cute and some accompanied by my friends, who, to be honest, looked great. Long story short, I did manage to make some matches and talk to some of these guys (like four actually) who wanted to meet me. One of them was extremely direct about what he wanted, and I ended up blocking him. As I had planned, I didn’t meet any of them, and I deleted the app. However, even today I still wonder, would these guys approach me if we were to meet at a club or a bar? Moreover, are the profile pictures actually from them, or is it the classic scam?
One of my biggest fears about these apps was actually being deceived by many who want to scam others or trick them into something. Little did I know that unconsciously I was doing it myself. You could ask, what scam? There’s nothing wrong with what I did. But it turns out that I'd also done something called kittenfishing, or as people have been naming it on the internet, the new catfishing.
In case you live under a rock and don’t know what I'm talking about, Catfishing is when someone creates a false identity in order to deceive another person through social media. So, what's kittenfishing, then? It's not as terrible as the former one, but it involves a voluntary intention of altering our profiles to give another impression on people watching us in that media. Generally, this is done in dating websites and apps to make us look more attractive and result in sure hook-ups.
So, where did this term come from? Kittenfishing was coined by the dating website Hinge. This practice is so common in social media that they had to put a name to it. Basically, as I mentioned, it consists of people presenting their profiles in an altered way to give a positive impression to others. How do we do that? Exactly as I did when I opened my Tinder account: with outdated or edited photos that make us look better than we actually are. Some of these techniques (and one I declare myself guilty of) is taking pictures with the right angle to highlight our best features.
Besides showing modified or unrealistic pictures, this practice also involves misleading information like reducing our age, lying about having an amazing job, our profession, and, in extreme cases, even about the city we live in or our nationality. It's changing who we are to be more appealing to other users and be more successful in the quest of getting a date with someone (in the case of dating apps and websites) or pretending to have the perfect life on social media.
But why do we have the urge to something like this? Probably, we all do some sort of editing in how we present our lives and we don't even notice. The problem with this practice is not precisely about a scam or tricking people, since as the term states, it's a well-intentioned practice. The problem lies in what's behind it. Are we not happy with who we are or how we look like so we feel the need to portray something else? Do we have low self-confidence? That's really what we should focus on.
The images illustrating this article belong to @tezzamb
If you want to know more about this kind of mischievous practices, take a look at these: