Here’s another sign of how out of step I am with popular culture: the new trend in on-line dating websites is to post a photo in which the person who wants a date poses with some cute dog . . . who isn’t actually their dog.
It’s called “dogfishing.” The underlying concept is that a picture with an adorable dog instantly communicates something about the life and personality of the person in the photo. Dog ownership is associated with positive qualities, so photos with dogs convey, to some people, at least, that the person is a friendly, nurturing type who loves animals. After all, if the dog in the photo evidently likes the person, that’s an endorsement of sorts. Plus, the dog in the photo is something that the two strangers who connect through the dating site can talk about when they meet each other.
So some on-line dating app users — mostly men, apparently — have decided to latch on to the positive associations of dog ownership, without actually having to deal with poop pick-up, worms, shedding, and the other negative attributes of actual dog ownership. They find a dog, get a consciously cute picture taken with the dog, ditch the dog, post their picture, and they’re off to the races. Apparently they’re banking on making a lasting connection before the people they meet through the websites figure out that there is no dog.
I’ve read about users of on-line dating sites misrepresenting their physical appearance, employment status, education, and the like, so another bit of conscious deception probably shouldn’t be a surprise. But, to me, taking a fake photo with a cute dog in hopes that some gullible dog lover decides to venture a meeting seems to plumb new depths in on-line deception. What’s next? Fake mothers?