How 'Catfish' Changed Eight People's Lives And Rewired Our Understanding Of Online Existence

The movie Catfish, a documentary thriller about an online relationship, first premiered in theaters on September 17, 2010. By following an online relationship between Nev Schulman and Megan Faccio, the film brought to light certain negative aspects of social media that had not yet been considered in mainstream culture. The film gained notoriety across the US, eventually sparking the MTV reality show, Catfish

Yaniv "Nev" Schulman is a New York-based photographer and the protagonist of Catfish. His older brother Ariel "Rel" Schulman and filmmaking partner Henry Joost are the brains behind the operation. As filmmakers, Rel and Henry often recorded Nev's antics, and as Nev developed an increasingly convoluted online relationship with a family in Michigan, Rel began recording more and more, hoping to create a short film out of Nev's growing online network.

Rel and Henry thought they would follow a simple story with a happy ending. Instead, the trio became caught in a complex web of deception and lies. They used their skills to uncover a dark secret, eventually turning their work into the groundbreaking documentary.

Today, catfishing is an expected element of online dating, as evidenced by some of the creepiest Catfish episodes. Though catfish stories aren't particularly new, the phenomenon wasn't widely considered until the documentary. By creating a compelling and honest narrative, the Catfish documentary opened people's eyes to the more nefarious consequences of social media and exposed the simple mechanisms of deception often found in online accounts.