21st century lows: Issa Zimbabwean catfish.

Once upon a time,

I met a Catfish. A whole Zimbabwean Catfish. I honestly had no idea they made those in Zimbabwe.

The term “catfish” was popularised by the docu-film of the same name and the subsequent MTV reality show in which the hosts, Nev and Max, help those who suspect they may have been duped online track down who their online love buddies really are. I binge watched this show a few years ago – and yep (pardon the pun), I was hooked. I found it extremely funny. Some of the people on the show had relationships lasting many years that they took very seriously – yet so often, sadly, found out it was all built on a lie. In many cases, the person they were really speaking to wasn’t even of the same gender as the persona they created. This stuff is hella interesting – Hold on, let me correct myself… It’s interesting to watch, can’t say the same about being the victim though. Spurred on by watching these cyber investigations, One day I decided to do some research of my own on a man I barely knew but had become close to due to the fact that things just felt a bit off and he always had something dramatic going on in his life- Im going to skip through this story as much as possible otherwise we might just be here all night and I really can’t be bothered. 

Here goes my catfish experience…

I started talking to this man, I’ll call him Brian, things were great, the vibe was insane…we clicked from the get go. A few weeks into us talking on that next level he volunteered information that he had a trip planned to come down to Australia from Zimbabwe which was scheduled for a couple of weeks from that day and of course that kinda got me excited considering how everything was going between us. Coincidentally my friends and I were planning a road trip around the time he was supposedly going to be around so he pretty much invited himself to the trip and I obliged. He got so involved in planning this trip. He would send us accomodation suggestions and basically anything he thought would be great for the trip. Weeks passed and the day he was scheduled to fly out , your guess is as good as mine, something came up. In brief, apparently according to him, his dad had sold his family home behind his mom’s back. Random people supposedly showed up at his house that morning wanting to repossess the house therefore he couldn’t come until he figures out where his mom and his niece were going to stay. (UMMMM) *crickets*…. let me spare you the unnecessary details. 

Fast forward  a couple of hours passed, he told me he had changed his flight to a different date just so he can sort things out and his next flight was meant to be in 2 days. My sixth sense started to suggest that something wasn’t right. None of it felt right. As much as I had my doubts I did nothing about it and just acted normal. Fast forward again…A couple of days passed, the day he was scheduled to now fly out came and GUESSS WHAT?! no excuses came up, the man wasn’t tripping after all…HALLELUJAH!!! I was actually quite surprised, I felt like such a loser for even doubting him in the first place. We spoke about the flight, everything was all gravy, I was beyond excited. Despite all the hurdles along the way it was finally happening. It was now Tuesday evening around 10pm my time so I said my goodbye’s and went to bed. We had like a 9 hour time difference and he was supposedly going to hit me up as soon as he lands.

It’s now Friday morning, his flight was supposed to land on Thursday however Thursday came and went but I heard nothing from him. My doubts started pulling up on me again but I once again decided to give him the benefit of a doubt and started making up all these excuses in my head for him… Jetlag IS a bitch at times, I didn’t expect him to send a message via smoke signals or anything like that so I chilled. On the Saturday is when I started to feel like something wasn’t right.  I decided to message him to ask if everything was okay and while I was in the process of typing my message I noticed that he had actually been online a few hours ago. *CRICKETS* First thing that came to my mind was if he has been online and hasn’t bothered to send a simple message just telling me he arrived safely, there must be more to the story duhhhhhh. My inner detective suddenly came out , I asked a friend of mine in Zimbabwe to call his Zim number. She tried to call twice and both times someone would pick up but not say a word. weirdo much???? A few minutes after her second attempt a different number calls her back asking who it was and that he had seen a missed call on his phone etc etc and of course my friend had to come up with some sort of excuse as to why she called him and we all know wrong number always works best in those kinda situations. At this stage it was now all very transparent, the trip never happened and it was all a massive lie. Way to go detective S. 

I then messaged him asking what had happened ( not that I didn’t know obviously *rolls eyes*) my message was of course read , blue ticks and all but just no reply. Conveniently this man disappeared overnight. Texts, calls and even smoke signals were unanswered. It was a huge mystery. Had aliens abducted him, I wondered???  Maybe the flight vanished??? I honestly had no idea what to think at this point. Thing is, When we first met, he had pursued me passionately – texts on texts, endless phone calls and all. Basically his consistency was on fleek. I guess kinda like what they mean when they talk about being swept off your feet. He was efficient with almost everything. I’ll admit, of course it was flattering to receive such (seemingly) enamoured attention so yea I kinda got used to the idea of him.

After my very brief investigation I realised that despite the fact that he wasn’t like your typical catfish who lies about how they look, this guy had sadly lied about almost everything else. Such a massive let down. The lies were quite the dramatic ones too he probably deserves an Oscar for semi cat fishes if they have those. As if all that wasn’t enough for me to run the hell out of that situation, I convinced myself that maybe deep deep down he was nothing like the situation was making him seem, and had very valid reasons for lying like that. Needless to say, I reached out to him again just to sort of understand why anyone would invest such insane amounts of time in petty lies…LOL I know, I know shhhh I’m a very understanding girl, what can I say. Sometimes I do feel like I’m too trusting and way too forgiving. Anywaysssss, fortunately despite my attempt It appeared the aliens still had him.  I got nothing back. Funny thing is, He would watch my snapchats every single day but wouldn’t reply my messages. LOOOOOOL I’m sorry – what?! Not sure if he knew I could see this or what…That’s when my moral compass screamed TIME OUT.  WE NOT DOING ALLA DAT NO MORE. I decided to delete his entire existence from my life and pretend none of it ever happened.

Long story short , As much as his fake persona ticked most of the boxes of what my ideal partner was, I wasn’t desperately hurt as my radar was already up when the number of dramatic stories gradually started to increase. In saying that, I was truly shocked at the extent to which he had been prepared to deceive. I wasn’t ready but I was kinda relived I had followed my gut instincts from jump and didn’t expect any of the stuff he was saying to check out in the end. I never really understood why or for what reason all that was done and I still don’t. Like what type of a pathological liar do you even to be to willingly volunteer false information like that? Was that even necessary? Are people really that bored and have enough time on their hands to be selling dreams to every girl that so happens to show interest in buying ? We need to pray for more jobs to become available in my beloved country because this kinda behaviour is not common among us and I feel like maybe not having enough things to do causes people to act a fool. You live and you learn though…I had to graciously accept the apology that never really came and swiftly move TF on. It was just quite a bizarre experience tbh. Still can’t shake the feeling…Definitely one for the books. He did try to reach out a few months later but gyaldem had already moved on so I just aired the message. I honestly didn’t need the explanation anymore. It was rather 3 months too late.

It’s scary to think we have to be so guarded and dubious when we interact with others online, but as long as social media provides the anonymity it does, there will always be “Brian’s” out there who will covet others’ lives. The internet is a place where many fantasies play out, but sadly most are only screen deep.

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