In the first and second installments of Catfishing in Second Life, we explored the nature of catfishing, including the most common tactics used. In this final installment we will look at how you can prevent being catfished in Second Life.
Below are a few methods you can use to prevent being catfished and to save yourself from some serious relationship anxiety moments in Second Life:
Read Second Life Profiles
A person’s Second Life profile can reveal many things about a potential love interest who may be a catfisher. You should always check a person’s groups, picks, and look at what else they have on their profile. As Second Life is a virtual world it is quite easy to catfish, as it is in real life. Most catfishers may have on their profile that they do not voice, this may be a sign of the person not being the age or gender they claim to be. Looking at a person’s groups may reveal other group owners that could quite possible be the alts of the person you are interested in. If you notice that a person claims to be a specific real life gender and you notice that their alts almost always appear to be a different gender, then the person could be gender catfishing.
You should also look for changes in the real life status or be on the lookout if a person says they do not want real life to Second Life. This last one is tricky as many people simply want to protect their real lives from Second Life, it does not necessarily mean that the person is a catfisher if they do not mix Second Life and real life, but often a catfisher will use this excuse as to why he or she cannot voice.
If a potential love interest says that he or she does not wish to voice in Second Life, then casually ask the person if they wish to voice out of Second Life and use Skype or some other type of instant messaging. If they say that they only have Skpe for real life, then suggest they create a Skype account that is named after their Second Life avatar.
Beware of Fake Real Life Information
Often a Second Life catfisher will provide some type of real life information, such as photos, social media website pages, and even readily voice and cam with you. If you read part 2 of our Catfishing in Second Life series, then you will know that it is possible for catfishers to use voice morphing to sound older or younger and to sound like a different gender. It is also possible to use fake web cam programs that serve the same purpose as voice morphing but with video. The catfisher may give you access to much real life information, after all if a person is sharing real information you are more than likely to believe them in Second Life.
If you are receiving real life photos from a catfisher, then look at the photos, do they look too good to be true? Do they look professional or like modeling photos? You can also do a search for the photographs via Google’s image search to see if the photos appear elsewhere online. If the person sends you to Facebook or other media websites, look at their friends list if its visible. See if the friends profiles appear fake, often a serial catfisher will invent friends on social media sites to appear that they are real. You can also look at the images on the social media sites and with Facebook you can look at the history of someone’s profile with timeline. Was the profile recently created? Did the person use the account much at all or is it only recently being used?
Change in Second Life Habits
This tactic is something that Second Life catfishers often do when they are lying about their Second Life or real life relationship status, in other words the catfishers may have several others they are catfishing, while trying to enter a relationship with you. If the person you are interested in suddenly changes their Second Life habits, such as logging in earlier or logging off later or not logging in at all, when they were steady Second Life users, then the person may have a change in relationship status or are maintaining several relationships while trying to enter one with you also. Often catfishers claim that something traumatic has happened in real life to prevent them from logging into Second Life, such as an accident or finding out they have a terminal illness.
Deciding What You Want
At the end of the day it is upt to you to decide what type of Second Life relationship you have and this can play a big role in preventing catfishing. If you are ok with just a 100% Second Life relationship and do not care if your romantic interest ever voices or cams, then catfishing will not matter as you have set the boundaries of the Second Life relationship. If you are considering being with a person who does not voice or will not cam or will not change their Second Life routine and these things are a deal breaker then you should probably not date the person or pursue anything. You should also not approach every single romantic encounter as the person you will meet in real life and spend the rest of your life with, such thoughts may set you up for failure in real life and cause heartache.
Keep in mind that not everyone who does not voice or does not volunteer real life information in Second Life is a catfisher. That particular person may simply be a private person and does not want to mix Second Life and real life together for valid reasons. Catfishing involves numerous tricky and sneaky tactics and behavior put together not just one or two. When the tactics mentioned in this series are used together at one time, then you are more than likely being catfished.