On a first date, my friend was asked, “What is your passion?” Can you imagine? I can’t think of a more discordant question. I would have thought I would be able to find something there, but I was confused. What can you say?

I think it would be more off-putting if someone had a ready-made answer: “my passion is travel” – do you like holidays? How interesting – or even worse, “my passion is fitness”, which would have me sprinting out the door of the pub with more existential dread than I entered.

I find the most glorious escape in a genre of media that has flourished since I came of age; i.e. the genus related to catfish

The problem is that any serious attempt at answering is too revealing to expose to someone you just met. A more acceptable first date question would be “what do you do when you’re not working?” It may even be a more accurate indicator of your personality than something as philosophical as your passion. As in, what do you really do when you collapse on the couch after a long day?

I’m sure there are plenty of people who love nothing more than opening an important political tome of an evening or working through the literary canon. However, I find the most glorious escape in a genre of media that has steadily flourished since I came of age; i.e. the genus related to catfish.

It all started in 2010, when I was clinging to the edge of the sofa in a fit of teenage boredom watching TV with my mom. I was thinking of going to bed when the opening credits of a Channel 4 documentary caught my eye. When the title Catfish came up, I thought, oh no, is that something from nature?

The film introduced us to the charming protagonist, Nev Schulman, strolling through New York, while being filmed on a portable camcorder by his friend and brother. It’s easy to forget, when now I spend more time searching for TV shows than watching them, that it just popped up on the screen and we had no idea what it was. was. The homemade look of the movie appealed to me, and I had to keep watching because there was no way to save it.

We were hooked on Nev’s journey to meet the woman he was falling in love with on Facebook. It was like You’ve Got Mail in the age of social media.

At the time, I thought, okay, it’s probably not really a blonde-haired dancer he’s talking to, but I got engrossed in the story and really hoped it would work. There was plenty of evidence to suggest that her love interest was who she said she was: she had a whole Facebook network of friends and family and even sent him paintings of her “sister.” The whole time I was watching, I always wondered, why the hell is it called catfish?

Spoiler alert: Turns out she wasn’t the young woman she claimed to be and was actually a much older woman caring for her two disabled step-sons who needed help 24 hour care.

It’s now in its eighth season and the sense of danger has undoubtedly diminished over the years, but sometimes people are real, and it’s still my favorite comfort show.

Even though I knew she was a manipulative mistress, I felt incredible sympathy for her loneliness. Her husband, using a metaphor, explained how when cod are transported from Alaska to China, they put a catfish with them to move them around so they arrive fresh. “And there are these people who are catfish in life. . . They keep you guessing, they keep you thinking, they keep you fresh,” he said. My 15 year old mind was blown away by his poetry.

And so, the twentysomething genre was born, and the term catfish became the dictionary definition of someone who creates a fake online profile with the intent to deceive. There are now many documentaries and podcasts with a similar theme such as Sweet Bobby and The Tinder Swindler.

Nev has since started a show on MTV in which he helps hopefuls meet their love interest online. I know the format by heart at this point: catfish’s phone and laptop camera are simultaneously broken, they’re too shy to talk on the phone, they’re too busy at work to meet – and yet they can text 24/7.

The show always dives into the story of the catfish, and you end up feeling more sorry for them than the person they lied to. It’s now in its eighth season and the sense of danger has undoubtedly diminished over the years, but sometimes people are real, and it’s still my favorite comfort show. I’ll sit down to watch it with a cup of tea the same way my grandmother would watch an Agatha Christie drama.

On second thought, this might be an unsettling conversation for a first date. The poor guy might turn around and say, “Look, I know my profile pictures are a few years old, but I wouldn’t say I’m a catfish.”

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