According to the Urban Dictionary definition, a “Catfish” is someone who pretends “to be someone they’re not using, Facebook or other social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances.” Online dating has become such a big thing that the term, “Catfish,” has even led to an MTV show by that name. This show brings online relationships together to see if the people are what they actually claimed to be (spoiler: they usually aren’t).
Th term “Catfish,” has gone viral due to the Manti Te’o hoax. If you haven’t heard of the Te’o hoax, just do a simple Google search or tune in to a sports news channel. You will get inundated with stories about the Notre Dame player and Heisman trophy runner-up. Millions of people were inspired by the story of his girlfriend of several years who died of leukemia. The problem? She never existed. Te’o was apparently the victim of a “catfish” conspiracy. The players are unfolding like a Shakespearean drama. The cast includes: a girlfriend who never existed; a girl who was the voice of the fake girlfriend who now wants an actual relationship with Te’o; a 23 year old whose picture was taken without her knowledge to be the face of the fake girlfriend; a couple of men who texted Te’o from time to time acting as brothers or friends of his fake girlfriend; a 9 year old girl who texted Te’o as the girlfriend, and the man who allegedly masterminded the whole thing…a “Christian” singer and “The Voice” contestant.
As Sir Walter Scott wrote, “what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!” Every one of us has a desire to be seen as something better than what we actually are. We don’t want our spots and blemishes presented to the world. Often times, this desire causes us to create different personas: the ‘me’ I am at work, home, church, online, and in my most private moments. But our Creator knows who we are all the time. He knows our heart, and we will be judged by who we truly are and what we have truly done – both in public and in private. The child of God must never go, “Catfish,” pretending to be someone we aren’t. We must always strive to be the same in public as in private. We must not present one face at church and then turn into someone else at work and home. The face we are presenting to the world is not our own; we were bought at a price.
Give that some thought next time you start to embellish who you are. God loves us despite knowing every fault and flaw. Psalm 136:23 honors God as “the One who remembered us in our low estate, [yet] His love endures forever.” Isn’t it easier to tell the truth and avoid getting tangled in a web of deceit? Even catfish get caught in the Master Fisherman’s web of judgment.