Digital Dating And The Catfish Phenomenon

HandsA 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” according to UrbanDictionary.com.  About two months ago, most Millennials, and certainly most adults, didn’t know what the term meant despite the release of a 2010 documentary of the same name. Now, it’s become a common catchphrase in culture, is the subject of a hit reality show on MTV, and is national news following Manti Te’o’s scandal. Millennials are redefining dating in the digital age, and unfortunately that sometimes means being misled online. We recently surveyed 989 13-34-year-olds about the concept of being Catfished and how they feel about online-only relationships.

Having a relationship that solely exists on the Web is more common among Millennials than one might think. Two in ten (22%) say they’ve been in an online relationship before, and nearly this same percentage (19%) believes that an online relationship is just as meaningful as an in-person relationship. This generation has grown up forming friendships and relationships on the Internet, so it’s no surprise that they feel close to others through a screen. One Millennial even wrote an article for us earlier this year about how the Internet enables friendships that might not otherwise be possible. Yes, online friendships and romances often lead to physical meetups, but Millennials still view this way of getting to know someone as socially acceptable. Texting, tweeting, IMing, and video chatting are normal ways for them to build or further a connection. Moreover, Millennials value being constantly connected through technology; they appreciate knowing that their friends or significant other is just a click away.

A recent article in Jezebel

 
 

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Millennial News Feed

Quote of the Day: “The type of commercials that stick in my memory are the ones that make me evaluate my life.”—Female, 28, SD

To Millennials, being a geek is a good thing. Imgur’s research (conducted by Ypulse) reveals that 60% of Millennials consider themselves geeks or are into geeky things, compared to just 38% of Xers and Boomers, and the majority don’t believe the geek label is a bad thing. These Millennial geeks are trendsetters, politically and culturally engaged, and highly influential: 84% say people look to them for advice on a topic, compared to 60% of non-geeks, and 67% say they know about things before they go viral, compared to 48% of non-geeks. However, Millennial geek influencers are not easy to reach, with 76% using adblockers and 32% feeling like brands can’t relate to them. (AdweekMediaPost

Half of 12-18-year-olds feel they are addicted to their phones, according to Common Sense Media’s new poll. Although not enough research exists to define digital addiction currently, teens are clearly dependent on their devices: 80% say they check their phones hourly, and 72% said they feel a need to respond to text and social media messages immediately. Parents are in agreement, with 59% saying their children are addicted, and 36% saying they argue daily with their children over mobile use. The bright side is there are signs they are aware too much time on devices might be bad: 37% say they are very often or occasionally trying to cut down. (CNN)

BuzzFeed, which is producing 600 pieces of content daily, has grown their audience views from 2.8 billion monthly to 7 billion in the past year. They attribute their success to “truly understand[ing] what today's audiences want,” and being able to monitor reactions to content. They report that three quarters of their content is consumed outside of their actual site. Facebook is where they thrive: the social network contributes 33% of their views, more than their own platforms at 23%. Tasty, their food entertainment division, has become "its own BuzzFeed," averaging 360 million users monthly. (Adweek

Going viral is not always a good thing. Down to Lunch is a simple meet-up app inspired by “the experience of living in their freshman-year dorms,” connecting users with their contacts to facilitate lunch, “chill,” or “blaze” meet-ups. But as it began to gain traction, becoming “wildly popular college campuses,” fake reviews claiming the app was used for human trafficking also began to go viral—decreasing user growth by 90% over two days. The founders were able to fight the accusations, and the popular app peaked at  No.2 on iPhone download charts in April. (Business Insider)

According to The New York Times the future of journalism is virtual reality. At the NewFronts this week, the Times outlined their new digital strategy, concentrated on an R&D lab where journalists, technologists, and brands will create video series and 360-degree videos. Last year the publication delivered a million Google Cardboard virtual reality headsets to subscribers, leading to 600,000 downloads of their VR app, which they call “the leading mobile app for high quality VR content.” The company plans to cover the Olympic games in Rio, space exploration, and more in VR this year. (Fortune

Quote of the Day: “A wedding trend I have noticed is not having a photographer, and just having friends take all the pictures.”—Female, 18, CO

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