Curiosity Killed the Catfish

I sometimes wonder if the very reason I get up in the morning is because I hope, above all else, to encounter a great story or just one striking image or idea that I can incorporate into my writing. I want to be inspired, intrigued, and challenged. I want to come face to face with someone or something that will make me rethink meaning and purpose.

Of any given day, I’m pretty demanding. I live to serve my art, and I depend on art to serve me.

You’re probably thinking this is a noble and very creative way to live. Or, you’re thinking I’m full of shit and that I take life too seriously. Either way, I sometimes worry about myself. Living for the sole purpose of igniting and following through on your own curiosity can sometimes lead to danger. It leaves me very vulnerable.

Recently, I saw and enjoyed Catfish, a documentary about Nev, a young man who begins a long-distance romantic relationship with a young woman he meets on Facebook through¬†serendipitous¬†circumstances. The main character’s brother and friend – filmmakers – decide to film Nev as the relationship between him and his Facebook lover develops. They do this simply because they find the relationship strange and intriguing. They’re not quite sure what will come of it, but they figure that they have nothing to lose.

First of all, I could strongly relate to these three young men because I loved their curiosity and their willingness to explore situations that other people might find strange and uncomfortable. I appreciated Nev’s open heart and open mind – he has a nine-month emotional affair with someone he’s never even met! I love their fascination with the world and with other people.

But one moment in this film really struck me and has stayed with me since I watched it about two weeks ago. About half-way through the movie, Nev realizes that something is not right with his Facebook relationship. He begins to question some of the information that his online love has shared with him, and he suspects that she is lying. Nev isn’t quite sure what to think, but his first impulse is to end the relationship immediately. He no longer wants to be involved with someone he cannot trust, especially since he’s never met her.

However, his brother and his friend push him to continue. They don’t allow him to confront her about lies and instead push him to play along with her game. Nev is hesitant to listen to their advice, but he does realize that he is curious to find out where this very strange interaction will ultimately take him.

Viewers who enjoyed this film like I did should be grateful that the three of them decided to pursue the uncomfortable situation for the sake of the story, for the sake of art. Without their curiosity, this film would not exist.

I realize that pursuing something for the sake of finding out the outcome is not always a safe option. If you ever feel you are in real danger, you should stop immediately. But sometimes you have to push yourself to journey beyond the point that you feel comfortable going.

The possibilities in this life are infinite. The earth is such a huge place that you will only ever see a small fraction of it in your lifetime. Why would you subject yourself to one tiny jail cell of a space in both your mind and your heart when you can move so freely? Wake up every morning and think like an artist – live for the story.

(Photo by woodleywonderworks)

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