Carpenter: The Landon Catfish


Courtesy of @Landon_Fandom on Instagram

This is the face used by the many catfishers to fool the MSMS student body.

Alexz Carpenter, Social Media Editor

Meet Landon. Tousled black hair, brown eyes, full of sass, the brother of MSMS alum and prospective MSMS student. Academically driven and energetic, but unfortunately accepted into a prestigious boarding school out of the country.

Recently, secrets have been revealed, accounts have been exposed and the MSMS student body has been left to mourn the loss of a person that never existed.

During the summer, many MSMS seniors turned to social media to get a glimpse of the juniors they would be spending the rest of the year with. Through profile-stalking, direct messages or re-posts, through the powers of social media and space-time compression, they connected with one another and were able to find out more about each other before they even met.

One of these accounts was Landon. Landon was a rising junior who clearly showed excitement for coming to MSMS. Supposed brother of a previous alum, Landon practically radiated energy off of his various posts and many current and previous MSMS students were excited to meet him. I was definitely one of those people. I liked all of his pictures and screenshotted his posts to show my friends. He seemed like a very interesting character, to say the least, and many other students felt the same way.

“Landon was really witty and could come back to my comments at any instant” junior Reggie Zheng reflected.

Soon, however, secrets were revealed: Landon’s account was fake, and word spread. On one of Landon’s more recent posts, he wrote about his “new life” at his boarding school, yet soon after, backlash filled the comments section.

When I found out, I felt upset, betrayed that I had been deceived of this persona for a whole summer. As it turns out, some recent MSMS graduates had invested hours and hours of time into this account to make it believable. I was amazed, but also confused as to why they would spend this much time conjuring up a fake ‘life’ when they have lives of their own.

Many other current MSMS students had conflicted emotions about the situation.

“I don’t think it was that big of deal,” stated senior Dairian Bowles. “I think it was a harmless joke, even though it was unfunny. The posts were neat but creating a fake junior and being in college seems kind of pointless and sad.”

Senior Devin Chen had a more aggressive opinion. “I think what the seniors done was super petty and unnecessary…I have respect to them all individually, but this just seemed very immature to me.”

Some students were even amazed at the creator’s intelligence.

“(Landon) was a perfect embodiment of the kind of slapdash, ironic, loose humor that the world, and social media, lacks,” senior Victoria Gong stated. “His creators should be proud of Landon’s success and the unconventional entertainment he brought to others”

In addition, many MSMS students who had commented on Landon’s posts or even messaged him felt particularly hurt.

“… I will buy you with a Chinese yo-yo and literally beat you up with it if I see you again..” commented Gong on a post after a particularly heartfelt post before Landon’s lack of identity was reveal.

Urban dictionary defines a catfish as “someone who pretends to be someone they are not using social media” In this case, Landon was the ultimate catfish; a large majority of the student body was driven to believe in Landon’s existence and each post was plentiful in comments and likes. Even outside of the social media, students longingly wondered what MSMS would have been like with THE Landon. Imagine the horror to find that a summer’s worth of curiosity amounted to a catfish.  From an MSMS student perspective, we are qualified to burn with rage. From a larger standpoint, however, what does this say about today’s social media and societal communication? Are there ethical concerns about the power of manipulation behind social media? What does this say about the catfishers? Is this our own fault for falling into this hole?

With the increase in globalization, technology, and space-time compression, our willingness to sit on our behinds and socialize through our electronic devices is becoming more and more popular. According to the Pew Research Center, 65% of adults use social media sites as of 2015, a 7% increase from 2005. Even in everyday life, it’s a habit to pull out your phone and, perhaps, scroll through Instagram. It’s convenient, fast and efficient, but does quantity necessarily outweigh quality? And what can be accounted for as quality nowadays? There really is no say but scammers and catfishes, like Landon, are given much more power in these social situations rather than, say, seeing and meeting ‘Landon’ face-to-face. In the long-run, situations like Landon are harmless, funny even. Yet as social media continues the trend of replacing our social lives, the fear of more serious catfishes becomes more tangible. On the other hand, however, is it possible that the increase in catfishes could lead to a more conservative use of social media? It is uncertain. For catfishers? We can only wonder what genius was behind Landon and other believable catfishes.

“I think the creation of Landon was an ingenious idea—and one no one can hope to imitate as well in the future,” Gong stated.

Overall, I did enjoy the posts from Landon and got a good laugh from them. I was confused as to why they did it. I still am, but it was a good experience. If they enjoyed themselves, then good for them. They provided some good juice for the beginning of my senior year at MSMS.