7 Quick Takes on #ThatCatholicGirl, Nonfiction, and Dissenting Teachers

7 Quick Takes, hosted at This Ain't the Lyceum

— 1 —

I am way late to the party on this one, but I still want to comment on #ThatCatholicGirl. I use Twitter, and I follow a number of Catholic Twitter accounts. Some people refer to the popular ones as “Catholic Twitter,” but they mean the same Twitter that Pope Francis and Taylor Swift are using. It’s not a separate alternative platform, like a Catholic newspaper is.

In September, the popular anonymous account @ThatCatholicGirl was suddenly deleted. I’m pretty sure I followed it. The account owner had never revealed her real name, and she used an image of Belle from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast animated movie as her avatar, so we didn’t even know what she really looked like. Twitter has a variety of anonymous accounts like that; I follow a few. They’re mostly vehicles for humor and outlandish social commentary—the kinds of things you’d only say anonymously.

After the account was deleted, a separate Catholic Twitter user revealed the backstory: he had been catfished by @ThatCatholicGirl. When she was discovered, she deleted her account. It became a hashtag, as Twitter controversies tend to do, and it sent a ripple through the community. We’d thought we were immune to such things because we love Jesus! Not so, Catholic Twitter; not so.

— 2 —

I had the sort-of privilege of seeing the documentary Catfish before the term “catfishing” entered popular culture. It was a disturbing film, but it was worth watching. Sadly, there are plenty of examples now, so you don’t need to watch the original film to get it.

The concept is based on the practice of catfish (the actual fish that swim in the sea) being used to keep sea-shipped cod fish active in their tanks during the live shipping process. With a suspicious presence in their midst, they keep swimming, and their muscles/meaty parts stay strong.

When a person “catfishes” another, he or she is the suspicious presence in the social media tank, forcing alertness on everyone else. The “catfish” pretends to be a different person, establishing a relationship (often romantic) with someone under a rich false identity. Sometimes the people who appear to be interacting with the catfish (liking posts, tagging the catfish, etc.) are false accounts also run by the catfish. The concept is now so common (and sad) that MTV created a whole TV show about real people who have been catfished, Glee did a storyline about transgender catfishing, and you probably remember Notre Dame football player Manti Te’o’s catfishing dead girlfriend.

— 3 —

In this case, @ThatCatholicGirl presented herself as a single, early twenty-something undergrad student. The other user (an actual college student) considered @ThatCatholicGirl his girlfriend, although they had never met in person. Every time they planned to meet, she had some sort of emergency: an illness, unexpected travel, her sister’s divorce, her own parents’ divorce. To the young man, he was in a long-distance relationship. But he really wasn’t. His “girlfriend” wasn’t real.

It's pretty bad when one anonymous account justifiably calls out another anonymous account.

It’s pretty bad when one anonymous account justifiably calls out another anonymous account.

The truth is that @ThatCatholicGirl is thirty years old, not a student, and married. I don’t know exactly how she was exposed, but the account is gone, and the shame spread. Catholic Twitter erupted into shock, anger, and confused prayers for @ThatCatholicGirl, her “boyfriend,” and her husband.

The Internet never forgets.

— 4 —

I set a goal to be reading four non-religious non-fiction books per year by 2025. I unintentionally met that goal for this year all the way back in September. Hooray for me!

The books were Living Forward, Making It All Work, 168 Hours, and The 12 Week Year. Seems appropriate that making time for those books helped me reach a goal!

— 5 —

That is a parent who has mastered GTD! I can’t even get my coworkers to use my inbox. I even physically labeled it “to do” and “inbox,” but I find documents in my chair or laying across my keyboard pretty regularly. You win some; you lose some.

— 6 —

The U.S. legal system regularly tries to force Catholic schools and churches to let people contradict Church teachings and also stay employed. It’s bewildering. When I taught Catholic school, I was required to sign a contract that specified that, because I identified as a Catholic (which I was not required to do or be for my role as an English teacher), I could be fired for publicly dissenting from Church teaching. That was not a secret.

So I was delighted to read that the European Court of Human Rights actually defended the Church in a recent appeal, ruling that a religion teacher who was divorced and civilly remarried was justifiably prevented from teaching religion. It should not be a surprise that a religion teacher who publicly fails to follow that religion will not be allowed to teach that religion anymore. Why was that such a surprise that it went all the way to an international court?

— 7 —

I love dancing West Coast Swing, and although it is tricky, I have never found it especially difficult. I actually have more trouble with turns in progressive dances like Two-Step. Something about simultaneously moving forward and along a curved line is hard for me to balance.

I have to admit that the reasons WCS is hard that Brian B. listed on his website are convincing, though. Those are all legitimate, and they’re much clearer than just “WCS is so hard!”

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I read all about that @thatcatholicgirl thing when it happened and I’m pretty sure I also followed her but not sure. That whole story was so sad. But it’s kind of the online world we live in right now. I haven’t gotten catfished by anyone (thank god) but I have gotten “ghosted” way too many times (which is another new internet term). When you are talking to someone and they stop responding to you.

I am curious as to who the actual married woman is but I’ll probably never know and will just pray for her and her marriage. Like I have so many questions. Did her husband know? Was it just a big practical joke or did she really care for this guy? I have so many questions that will never get answered.

Oh man when I get to work on Monday I’m always amazed at what and where I find some of my different paperwork. And my pens are always missing! I do bullet journaling and in some of the facebook groups the little kids have their own journal and are copying their parents. It’s so cute!

    Ghosting is the worst. That has an in-person version (when you leave a party without making the rounds to say goodbye). I will admit to ghosting a bridal shower once, but the bride was a good friend of mine, and I already told her and the host that I would be slipping out early. I just didn’t want to make a scene!

Was that Manti Te’O situation a case of catfishing, or one of the most awesome pranks in recent history? Here’s an article I wrote: http://www.hyperstrategy.com/pranks.htm

    I think it was both. Catfishing can be a specific form of pranking, such as in Te’o’s case, where the catfish was not actually a real person. In other cases, the catfish is a single, real person, but that person has misrepresented himself or herself. For example, the TV show has at least one case of a transgender person not revealing his birth sex. That’s usually something you would want to know, even if you ultimately don’t care (“you” in general, not necessarily “you” Dan).

      The distinction I am making is that in catfishing, one of the persons in the relationship is fooled, and I find it hard to believe that Manti Te’O was not in on it. The people who were fooled in that situation were the media, fans, football coaches, etc. Te’O was one of the pranksters, not the victim.

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