Nev Schulman is the host of MTV's program, catfish, which I had never heard of before reading this book. I had heard, from afar, about catfishing--the way some people create online identities of whole cloth and use them to manipulate others. What makes this particular book interesting is not just its discussion of the many ways in which people catfish, but Nev Shulman's open sharing of his own experience as a victim. He fell hard for a girl who, along with her whole family and community, didn't exist as the people they appeared to be online. And this story, fascinating in its own right, leads to thought provoking discussion of what makes people trust the people they find online. Nev Schulman is a story teller, rather than a sociologist or psychologist, but the particular story he tells here and his struggle to make sense of his own experience hold their own just fine (even though I wouldn't have minded a bit of academic gloss....)
It's good reading not just for those interesting in catfishing per se, but for everyone who has at some point created an online persona, and wondered about the authenticity of their own digital selves and the communities of which they are part. I am pretty sure that most everyone I know in the kidlitosphere is pretty much who they say they are, and I am pretty sure that I am who I am saying I am (although one never knows....), but of course all of us have silences, and bits of personal thin ice, that make this whole business of public sharing at least something of a construct....
So in any event the book was very interesting reading, and I am much less likely to fall victim to catfishing now than I was before (and I am left wondering if anyone has ever tried-- pitches for fantasy books that don't exist, or something like that-- but I don't think that blogging, unlike, say, Facebook, is as amenable to the sort of personal rapprochement that good catfishing requires....)
In any event, all the bloggers that I've met in real life were pretty much what I was expecting (ie, lovely people) and I am happily planning on sharing a room at Kidlitcon with someone (KarenYingling) I've never met (and who I am very much looking forward to finally meeting!).
disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher
at 6:20 AM