The ultimate lesson of the £75K catfish…. we’re all sick of social media?

So of the four finalists who survived the three week contest, Alex/ Kate, the only ‘real’ catfish won the £75K total prize fund on ‘The Circle‘ last night.  The other three ‘genuine’ contestants left with nothing (except their forthcoming affiliate incomes of course!)


In case you missed it, The Circle is the new ‘Big Brother’ with a ‘Black Mirror’ twist….

Contestants compete for the prize fund, which they win by being voted the most popular by other contestants (through a 5 start ratings system). At the end of a three week period, the most popular contestant wins. The twist is that they don’t actually meet each other face to face, they interact only via a social media app called The Circle. (Here’s a recent post outlining the details).

There was only one ‘real’ catfish being played – by Alex,  a guy who pretended to be a woman called Kate, using his girlfriend’s pictures and some advice on make up and hair to keep up his pretense

And the other players all voted him/ her the most popular, and so he won the £50K. What’s probably more interesting is that the public, who new he was a catfish, also voted him the winner of the public vote, and so he ended up with £75K in total prize money.

So lessons learnt?

The show billed itself as an experiment in social media… and I guess we’ve all learnt that it is possible to totally fake a profile and convince people for three weeks that you are someone else.

However, it was also fairly obvious that Alex suffered a degree of emotional and psychological damage – i.e. he was visibly shocked that he won, especially the public vote…. and clearly guilty at having ‘played’ the other people, especially the people he was close to. So maybe this warns us off catfishing…

Why did the public vote for Alex and not the other three more genuine contestants?

My own theory is that the other three finalists were all just too ‘perfect’ versions of themselves – either too preened, or too stereotypical…. the genuine guy with ‘integrity’ tattooed on his arm; the 6ft gorgeous blonde party- girl who likes glitz, and the over the top gay-guy who talks about cock all the time….

Alex, on the other hand, was (as himself) clearly more thoughtful, vulnerable, and just funny, also conflicted (especially as Kate/ Alex).

And, of course, he was the only one who played the game…. and we all love a player.

Does the result matter?

In the grand scheme of things, no it doesn’t. Everyone knew it was a game, and I think the message that social media is also, ultimately just a game has been put out there. In fact, maybe that’s another reason why Alex won: ultimately he was the only finalist who treated the whole thing as a game. We never saw any of his actual photos that he uses for his actual social media profiles. With the other three finalists, their Circle profiles were more or less honest portrayals of their ‘real’ social media selves.

So perhaps what people liked about Alex/ Kate is that fact that he just stuck two fingers up to the whole thing, and deep down, we’re all just sick to the back teeth of living our lives through social media?

Written for educational purposes

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