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The Village Idiot | Catfishing Women on Tinder, and the Lessons Learned


I don’t remember having the idea to make a joke Tinder account, so it was either the product of divine inspiration or I was incepted, Christopher Nolan style. Regardless, for the past few days I have been conducting a sort of sociological experiment – part pop art, part catfishing. Or, in my case, Swedish Fishing.


Why Swedish Fish? Couldn’t tell you. Why Landscape Architecture? No idea. Why seven? Eight was too many.

Lesson #1: If you’re going to make a joke Tinder, choose your words wisely when telling your girlfriend. Especially do not do it like this:

“Cate, I’m bored, so I’m going to make a Tinder. Don’t freak out, I’m just using it to fuck with people.”

Thus began the swiping. Swedish Fish don’t judge, so I just kept swiping right – and giving everyone I recognized a super like. By the next day, the fish had over fifty matches. At first, I wasn’t sure what angle to take (Ha! Get it? Because fish?), so I tried out a few different things:

  • “Tell me…how do you feel about landscape architecture?”
  • “You into fish?”
  • “Hur känner du dig om landskapsarkitektur?”
  • “Eat me”

Some of the responses I got were humorous, but at first I was underwhelmed. Perhaps no one expects a joke account to actually message them (though a friend told me he once had a very nice conversation with Jar Jar Binks). However, as I kept swiping right, more and more girls started initiating conversations with me, and that’s when the fun began. I can only guess at the motivations of these girls/women, but they seemed to range from curiosity to playfulness to genuine sexual interest. Here are two fascinating snippets from this bunch:



I should have stopped there, seeing as I already had a strong enough foundation to generate humor for days. My Seven Swedish Fish were completely original and completely irrational, but I wanted to see how far I could take the act.

Lesson #2: A truly great prank needs to have depth, whether measured by the amount of time put in or its complexity.

Soon the Seven Swedish Fish had both a Linkedin and Snapchat, as well as the objective of promoting their work as a landscape architects. I began to veer every conversation toward getting the other person to add me on one of these two sites. It was incredible. Here is one example:



It was at this point that I began to wonder if I was taking this too far. Was this something a sane person would do, or had I become a Tumblr post? Despite these concerns, I pressed on. That is, until the unbelievable happened. I got a match, and not just any match, but AN ACTUAL. SWEDISH. LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT.


Thus began my mental and emotional reckoning. She messaged me first, obviously excited to meet another Swedish landscape architect.


I was beginning to worry. No one else had messaged me for this long, and I felt that I was too far in to stop. So it continued.


Then the conversation shifted. She messaged me in Swedish, trying to see if I was the real deal. I was able to keep it going, because, ya know, google translate and all, but the situation was getting too high stakes for my liking. Not that it wasn’t entirely my fault – I was just too fascinated to stop.


Next thing I knew I was snapchatting this girl pictures of Swedish Fish, and she was snapchatting me pictures of her landscape architecture. I entered into this weird state of panic and amazement. My mind was racing. Isn’t this what I had wanted – to create something so complex that it became almost real? To embody the Chaotic Neutral? To create some sort of sugary, social Turing Machine? Was this just another instance of “How Close Can I get To Doing The Thing Without Actually Doing The Thing?” Does this make me a bad person? Had I gone too far?

Eventually I had to stop…I came clean to her. I hope the novelty of what I did outweighs any damage.

I learned two more lessons in all this weirdness. The first is that if you leave the realm of what is normal and rational, crazy and irrational things are bound to happen. The second is that, in the end, the Seven Swedish Fish were very real, and I was very, very fake.


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