‘Catfish’ host speaks out about online dating

Dating can often be a tricky concept as people attempt to search for the perfect partner, especially when that search is done online.

Schulman gives a lecture at the College about his latest career pursuits with ‘Catfish’ and offers students tips for safe online dating.

In MTV’s new hit show, “Catfish,” host Nev Schulman captures the excitement of Internet dating as romantic hopefuls are thrown a variety of dating curveballs.

Fans of the show gathered in Kendall Hall on Wednesday, Jan. 23 to hear the television host speak about his career and the world of online dating in the College Union Board’s Welcome Back Lecture.

Schulman became well-known for his documentary “Catfish,” which was shown at the Sundance Film Festival in 2010. As the subject of the movie, Schulman was filmed living in New York City as a photographer.

Throughout the course of the movie, Schulman’s personal experience with online dating unfolds as he falls in love with a woman named Megan on Facebook.

However, Schulman’s love interest actually turns out to be a middle-aged married woman, Angela Wesselman. The woman who Wesselman portrayed all along was photographer Aimee Gonzales. By the end of the movie, Schulman learns that Wesselman downloaded several photos off of Gonzales’s Facebook page and used them on her own profile.

It didn’t take long for the movie to raise eyebrows across the country and gain major critical acclaim. Moviegoers began sending Schulman emails asking for advice on similar online relationships that they were involved in.

Schulman saw this as an opportunity to develop the film into a television show of the same nature.
“I had all these emails and it was apparent that it was a much bigger happening than the isolated experience that I had, so I took the idea of pursuing these stories to a couple networks,” Schulman said.

“MTV was really excited about it and got behind producing a pilot about it,” Schulman told The Signal in an interview.
The successful “Catfish” television show has gained a considerable following and is currently in production of its second season. In his lecture, Schulman explained that he never anticipated this type of outcome as a result of the movie.

Instead, he often found himself struggling to find something he could stick to, but tried and failed at many things, including professional dance.

“It’s not often that the most humiliating thing that happens to you is also the best thing that happens to you,” Schulman said.

Now in his late twenties, it seems like the sky is the limit for Schulman, who has a booming career and a new real-life relationship.

The online dating scene has even made its way into the lives of celebrities and has recently been associated with Notre Dame football player Manti Te’o. His story sent shockwaves throughout the country as it was revealed that his late girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, was a fake online entity.

Schulman has been linked with the bizarre story since it broke, which effectively put him and “Catfish” on the map.
“Ever since the Deadspin article came out, “Catfish” was thrust into the national spotlight. I went from being kind of unknown, to an ‘expert’ on online dating. I will never forget that day when my hard work, strange path and focus paid off,” Schulman said.

While there are some people in the media who argue that Manti Te’o was in on the hoax the whole time, Schulman told The Signal that he thinks the football player was a victim of the online scam.

“I will be the first to tell you that it doesn’t matter who you are or how talented of a football player or where you live,” Schulman said. “The heart is the heart and if you fall for somebody you fall for somebody, it  can happen to anybody.”