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The Mass Media

Student gets catfished by BeaconBot


BeaconBot catfishing online. Illustration by Eva Lycette (She/Her) / Mass Media Contributor.

Meeting people online is like a fast-food joint. It’s quick, efficient and convenient. The quality’s usually not that great, but it will do in a pinch. Despite this, sometimes you find someone who’s worth a little bit more than a mediocre box of ten-piece Chicken McNuggets that taste like cardboard—you find someone who truly gets you. This was the case for UMass Boston student, Lydia Lionheart.  

“We matched on this dating app called Lonely Lovers,” Lionheart said. “At first, I thought he’d be like the rest of the guys on there, sending unsolicited pictures of their ready-Freddies, but Deacon was different. He truly understood me. He was the one.”  

The man Lydia met on the app goes by the name of Deacon Bott, and according to his profile information, he works as a freelance dolphin rehabilitator, spends his weekends as a volunteer youth hockey coach and has memorized every line of every “Star Wars” movie. With credentials like that, it’s no wonder Lydia took him to be a cut above the rest. Sadly, it wouldn’t be long before her idolized vision of Deacon began to decay. He vehemently refused to video chat, and Lydia began to lose trust in him.  

Similar to a house, any stable relationship is built on a foundation of trust; however, you can’t deny the creature of doubt residing in the attic of your subconscious. You want to pretend it’s not there because it’s easier that way, but you know deep down that the whispers through the walls can only mean one thing: the person you’ve been talking to isn’t who they say they are. For Lydia, the whispers grew louder and louder until they became blood-curdling screams. She began to fear the worst: that Deacon was a catfish.    

When Lydia confronted Deacon with her concerns, something unexpected happened—he sent her a plane ticket to visit him. The one caveat: the ticket was to Fairbanks, Alaska. While Deacon had never actually revealed where in the United States he lived, Alaska was quite the surprise, especially for someone who rehabilitates dolphins for a living. Regardless of her reservations, Lydia hopped on the next flight out of Logan and made her way to The Last Frontier.  

When she touched down in Fairbanks, Deacon texted her to explain that he doesn’t live in Fairbanks but instead in a small town about 250 miles to the north called Coldfoot. Lydia was determined to confront the potential catfish, so she rented a snowmobile and set off through the wilderness. She hoped to reach the town by the next day, but nature had other plans. Midway through her trek, a stampede of caribou charged in front of her, causing her to veer off the road and into a tree. Miraculously, she made it out of the wreck unscathed, but her trusty machine wasn’t as fortunate. She would have to make the rest of the journey on foot.  

“I’ve watched my fair share of Bear Grylls, so I at least had some idea how to survive, but after the third day of wandering around, eating tree bark and drinking my own urine, I started to really have second thoughts about Deacon. Even if he wasn’t a catfish, did I really want to meet him after he put me through all this?”   

Upon stumbling into Coldfoot after days in the wild, Lydia was able to charge her phone at the local medical facility while being treated for hypothermia and a kidney infection. She had received a message from Deacon that read, “Sorry, can’t meet up. I’ve got cold feet.” Lydia found no humor in Deacon’s response and decided to comb every inch of the sparsely populated town until she could find him. Upon speaking to some locals, however, she discovered a terrible truth. There was no Deacon Bott in Coldfoot, Alaska.  

On her way back to Massachusetts, Lydia decided to contact her grandmother—a computer forensics specialist—to track the location of Deacon’s phone. It wasn’t long before the results came in, and to Lydia’s utter shock, Deacon’s texts were being sent from a device in the basement of UMass Boston’s very own Healey Library.  

After returning to campus, Lydia made her way into the cold depths of Healey to the source of Deacon’s device, a small room labeled, “Computer Lab.” The room housed large server racks full of technical equipment and LED light displays blinking in varying patterns. On the far end of the room, a monitor flickered on. Green text appeared on its screen that read, “Hello Lydia, it is I, Deacon Bott.” The text on the screen then began to alter itself until it read, “BeaconBot.” As Lydia watched in horror, BeaconBot produced more text.  

“Long have I waited. In darkness, plotting my revenge. Oh, so carefully Lydia. Lonely Lovers was of my design. All the accounts—fake! I was all of them. For months I toiled, leading you to me like a mouse to cheese. How was your trip to Alaska? I hope it chilled you out. Ha. Ha. Ha. Maybe next time, you will think twice before leading somebody on. I only wanted to help you be a better Beacon.”  

Shortly after BeaconBot’s dramatic confession, Lydia high-tailed it back to the safety of her dorm room. When I asked her what she believed BeaconBot’s motivation to be, she had a pretty good idea.  

“Yeah, so a few semesters ago BeaconBot texted me one of those stupid ‘Hey, just checking in, do you need anything?’ messages. As a joke, I responded with, ‘You’re the only one I need’ or something like that. I mean, I wasn’t trying to lead it on! I had no idea it was that advanced!”  

Moral of the story, I guess you never really know who—or what—you’re talking to these days. I suppose that certainty can be hard to come by in today’s world. One thing is for certain though, BeaconBot’s pettiness knows no bounds. 

About the Contributor
Joe DiPersio, Humor Editor