I’m an advocate of online dating—not just for millennials, but for people of all ages (over 18, of course). It’s a great way to meet people in an epoch where you can’t get through a single meal without a collection of iPhones on a table. When I first told my mom I was trying online dating, she was scared for my life. I explained to her that my abilities to Google stalk anyone and anything kept me safe, and I meant that. I can smell a catfish from a mile away! But I’m not going to lie—even I’m perturbed after reading the following stats.
A recent survey commissioned by Raytheon found that 30% of people between the ages of 18 and 26 have been straight-up catfished. That’s right. They reported that they’ve met someone online who gave them a fake photo, lied about their job, education or about themselves. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they actually met these people in the offline world, but it’s still pretty weird that this many people are out there lying about themselves, seeking approval from complete strangers they clearly don’t intend to meet in real life.
The prevalence of “catfishing” has increased skepticism in millennials when it comes to trusting people they meet online. Forty-seven percent of those surveyed said they think social profiles are never accurate or only sometimes accurate. Millennials were asked, “When you look at a person’s profile online, in general, how often do you think the profile is accurate?” A whopping 44% said “sometimes accurate,” while 41% responded “usually accurate,” meaning an overwhelming majority of millennials hold on to a certain level of skepticism when they generally browse others’ profiles.
This is great news for Generation Y! Navigating the distorted sea of self-absorption that is social media is best done with a degree of caution. Yes, keeping safe and sound from online scumbies is important, but it’s also well known that most people frequently portray the positive aspects of their lives on Facebook and Instagram, giving outsiders an all-too-pleasant view. Followers get the feeling that their social and professional lives just aren’t up to par with those of their “more successful” peers, and wind up depressed about their shortcomings. So, to my fellow millennials, I say … continue to take what you see on social media with a grain of salt and if all else fails, Google search that noise.