What happens when pretending to be someone else is easier than being yourself?
As a teenager, she boosted her own popularity by making a fake MySpace account of a guy called Joey and writing comments on her own account saying things like, “You’re so pretty”.
No one suspected Joey was a figment of her imagination.
And then she became hooked.
As the life around her crumbled – she suffered abuse, her father was in prison, her mother a drug addict – she began creating more and more fake online profiles to manipulate others (a practice known as ‘catfishing’).
“I wanted to be anyone but me — I wanted a different outcome, a different life. I wanted to be a different person. And with MySpace, I realised I could,” the woman, who chose to remain anonymous, told Vice.
Her next attempt was not so successful.
She stole ten photos from the page of a beautiful girl called Samantha and created a new persona, Amanda Williams.
“Amanda, the fictional character I’d created, was the version of me that I so desperately wanted to be. She liked the same music that I did and shared the same general interests; but unlike me, Amanda was confident and bubbly,” she said.
For more: It happened to me: I was catfished.
Amanda became very popular online, befriending hundreds of people. But when she sent a message from Amanda to a popular girl at school, casually mentioning how great she was, things went awry.
“I figured if a girl like Amanda said she liked me — Amanda the scene queen, the popular girl — then so would the real cool girls at my school. It backfired,” she says.
The girl noticed she and Amanda both had the same phone number listed on their profiles.
“I went from being invisible to being totally shunned.”