Online dating should be honest online dating

The truth will emerge in the end
Oct 25, 2013

With such tremendous growth in social media in recent years, it is very easy to hide behind a computer screen and pretend to be someone else.

These days, photos are being stolen, names are being changed and nonexistent identities are being formed, thus making online dating a risky and rather complicated situation.

Whatever the reason for such deception — low self-esteem, revenge or boredom — creating fake profiles can be both emotionally hurtful and defamatory. Surprisingly, however, creating fake profiles is not illegal.

Waynesville native Caroline Ledford is looking for a way to change the law after experiencing the deception firsthand. When she learned that a stranger confiscated photos from her Facebook profile and used them to create a false persona under another name, she was shocked and in disbelief.

Ledford recently became involved with the show “Catfish,” a reality-based MTV television series that reveals the truths and lies of online dating. The show revealed that Heather Padgett, a 26-year-old living in Pensacola, Florida, had used Ledford’s photos to capture the attention of Michael Bradley, 27, who also lived in Pensacola. Bradley and Padgett maintained an online relationship for about a year and a half but never met face-to-face until the filming of the “Catfish” episode.

Ledford considers herself lucky that her photos were not paired with any defamatory information. However, she is convinced that passing a law prohibiting all false profiles could thwart future dating mishaps and possibly prevent other online crimes. This has prompted her to send a letter to N.C. Rep. Joe Sam Queen requesting the passing of such a bill.

It is troubling to think that North Carolina needs to enforce a law in order to prevent people from lying about their identities online. But as long as social media and online communication is thriving, the risk of being lied to remains present.

We applaud Ledford for her initiative.  Passing a law that renders a fine just might curb the number of online “catfishers” who are looking to hook someone into their lies.

But people should also realize that no matter how long a lie is carried on, the truth eventually will surface. Falling in love behind a computer screen will not ever be fulfilling enough to be permanent. So why lie in the first place?

If you’re looking for love that lasts, lying your way into the relationship is the surest way to make it temporary — just ask Padgett. She and Bradley are no longer on speaking terms.

We challenge online daters to be up front and put their real selves out there, flaws and all. There will always be someone who can see past the flaws and appreciate the real you. As we like to say in the newsroom, “There’s a lid for every pot.”