LEXINGTON, Ky. (10/9/13) – The host of MTV's hit reality show 'Catfish' Nev Schulman made a visit to the University of Kentucky Tuesday night to share with students his experiences as the frontman of the series that exposes deceptive online relationships.
Schulman spoke at UK's Singletary Center for the Arts as part of the Student Activities Board's Behind The Lens series. Prior to the event, Schulman greeted a long line of students waiting to enter the auditorium by shaking hands and taking pictures with fans.
The 29-year-old television host kicked off his talk with students by showing a video explaining how the 'Catfish' phenomenon began with a documentary he and his friends made detailing his own experience with online dating.
“One time I fell in love with a girl on Facebook, who turned out not to be who she said was,” explained Schulman in the video. “But being the woman she turned out to be became one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. We made a movie about it. It was kind of a hit. I became a lightning rod for bizarre online relationships and found myself wanting to help other people meet their online loves the way that I met mine.”
According to Urban Dictionary, a web-based dictionary of streetwide lingo, a 'catfish' is someone who pretends to be someone they're not using Facebook or other social media to create false identities.
Schulman later added the term 'catfish' was coined from this experience. He joked that many people mistakenly associate the term with 'noodling', a sport where people fish for catfish with their bare hands.
“It turns out she was not the hot 19-year-old girl she presented herself to be and was actually sort of a troubled 40-year-old mom instead,” he said in a second video presentation, referring to his online relationship. “When I finally met the 40-year-old mom, I also met her husband, and he told us this amazing story.”
The husband's story was about live codfish transported in giant vats on ships from Alaska to China. By the time the codfish got to China, their flesh would become mushy and tasteless, until one man put catfish in the vats with the cod to chase them around and keep them moving.
“He finished by saying he thanked God for the catfish, because life would be boring and dull if we didn't have someone nipping at our fins,” said Schulman in the video.
Thus, the television series was born.
Much of Schulman's talk revolved around the trials in his life at a younger age, and how they led him to be who he is today. He spoke on a very personal level about losing his best friend over an altercation at a mall, getting kicked out of college, and being arrested.
“I learned a lot in order to get here. For many of you who are probably around the age of 19, consider that when I was your age I was a disaster,” said Schulman. “I was out of control. I was hurting people. I was hurting myself, and I was very unhappy. So, you're probably all much better off than I was then so you're in good shape.”
Schulman advised the students to choose their friends wisely, emphasizing the impact those people will have on the rest of their lives.
“This is the time to choose who the people that you connect with and share your time with are,” said Schulman. “It's the people, and the connections that you make, and the ideas that you're exposed to, and the chances that you take that really sort of shape who you will become.”
Schulman ended the event by watching the newest episode of 'Catfish' in the auditorium with the students. 'Catfish' airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on MTV.
For more information on events sponsored by the UK's Student Activities Board, visit www.uksab.com, follow them on Twitter at www.twitter.com/UKSAB, or like them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/UKSAB.
Photo courtesy of Kirstin Stratton
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