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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The Newsfeed

Quote of the Day: “A wedding trend I’ve noticed recently is guests not dressing formally to the reception/wedding, more come as you are attitude.”—Female, 24, MI

This week, Mattel introduced an American Boy doll, their first male offering in the company’s 31-year history. New doll Logan Everett is part of a pair of singer-songwriters from Nashville who come with music-inspired accessories. The company reports that customers have been asking for a male doll for some time, and Mattel’s continuing strategy to diversify their offerings helped increase sales by 4% last year. (KidscreenNYTimes

Kids in Australia are spending more time online than watching TV. Research firm Roy Morgan reports that in 2016 six-13-year-olds spent an average of 12 hours a week online compared to 10.5 hours spent in front of the TV, the first time internet surpassed TV since the survey began in 2008. Online time has also almost doubled in the last eight years. The firm says, "The idea that TV is boring no matter what is on is just because TV is so static and it might have ads on it." (ABC

The current state of the White House has ignited Gen Z’s interest in politics—according to AwesomenessTV’s CEO, Brian Robbins. He reports that his own children’s newfound fascination with politics sparked by the recent election has inspired him to bring more political content to AwesomenessTV. Because “[a]n audience that really wasn't that interested is now really interested," the company will move away from “fluffy, horrible” entertainment news into political news, which could be in the form of documentaries, or scripted shows. (Business Insider)

Millennials are reporting higher rates of depression than any other generation, creating challenges at work. To avoid the stigma surrounding mental issues, young employees are increasingly resorting to using personal days to recuperate from anxiety, depression, and other afflictions. According to one expert, “this generation is not necessarily more depressed than workers of past generations, but more equipped to recognize it”—however, they fear judgement from their employers. (MarketWatch)  

Is Snap Inc. really a camera company? They say they are, and in their IPO filing the brand wrote, “In the way that the flashing cursor became the starting point for most products on desktop computers, we believe that the camera screen will be the starting point for most products on smartphones.” WeChat’s ability to read QR codes, Pinterest’s new visual search, and Facebook Messengers’ new visual capabilities all point to expanding capabilities of a camera—and the fact that “users’ experience of the world is increasingly mediated through cameras.” (The New Yorker)  

Quote of the Day: “I have a diamond wedding ring but any stone would be beautiful and appreciated.”—Female, 24, MN

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