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 emoji I most send is 100, because I'm 100% real.”—Male, 15, TX

Brands are now #adulting in an effort to relate to Millennials. In 2014, our Chasing Neverland trend reported Millennials’ desire to escape grownup responsibilities and indulge their inner-kid. Since then #adulting, which comically references the so-called adult struggles like paying rent or “showering beforenoon,” has blown-up online, getting mentioned 642,000 times just last year. Now brands are joining on the trend, tweeting out #adulting tips and jokes—but beware of adopting Millennial-speak. According to one social media expert, “if a brand can legitimately talk like a millennial or even a teenager, they can get away with using #adulting. Otherwise, it comes up as fake.” (Digiday

Fox’s Empire Snapchat lens not only garnered 61 million views, it also upped brand awareness for the series. Snapchat has officially released a few stats on their sponsored content in an effort to bring more marketers onto its platform, and reports that the Empire lens ramped up brand awareness by 16 points and increased tune-in intent by 8% when it ran in March. The lens, which “overlaid a graphic of a pair of headphones and sunglasses over Snapchat users' faces with a microphone that they could pretend to sing into,” was played 33 million times and used for an average of 20 seconds before snapping. (Adweek

Millennials may be the key to redefining beauty standards in the fashion industry. Despite criticism, fashion has been slow to diversify, and 80% of models booked for the Fall 2015 season were white. Tony King, a CEO of an advertising agency that works with luxury brands, believes the way Millennials consume content can spark change: “There used to be all these layers between what brands put out and what the consumer saw. Now with the rise of social media and the accessibility of platforms like Snapchat you see a true authentic voice.” While young consumers “are totally clued into a diverse voice,” many brands haven’t recognized their preferences. (Forbes

Millennials without college degrees could be “stuck renting for a long time.” New research is revealing significant hurdles for 18-34-year-olds without diplomas: college graduates without student debt will need on average five years of additional savings to afford a down payment for a starter home, those with student loans will need 10 years, and those who haven’t graduated college will need 15.5 years. Lower incomes are one of the main drivers for the trend, but Millennials without college diplomas are also less likely to get financial assistance from friends and family. (Wall Street Journal

Virtual reality is “inventing a new way to tell a story." A 360-degree app that tells the story of Cirque du Soleil's traveling Kurios show, has been referenced as evidence of how VR is poised to become a revolutionary tool for storytelling. The app puts users “in the center of the action,” spotlighting how the technology could be the “closest to teleportation we will ever have in our lifetime." Experts also claim that consumers will “actually create the greatest amount of [virtual] content for themselves and their friends,” because of VR’s power to let users relive important experiences like birthdays and weddings. (Recode

Quote of the Day: “I can’t live without my desktop computer because it can replace most of the other devices (media streaming, music playing, getting directions, staying in contact with friends, gaming...).”—Female, 25, SC

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