If you’re an apolitical normie or a casual shitposter, this article won’t be of much interest to you. However, if you’re active in “dissident” (whatever that has come to mean) political subcultures—whether you’ve been anointed as a charismatic “thought leader” or exist as a peripheral, docile, inconsequential (and totally not worth monitoring) figure like me—then feel free to read on. Paranoid weirdos may enjoy this as well.
A variant of catfish, “fedfish” refers to an intelligence operative (can be from any agency, entity, organization or country) posing as a romantically or sexually interested party when communicating on social media, basically the 21st century, extremely online equivalent of a honeypot or honeytrap.
Ever since I’ve developed an awareness of such phenomena, it’s been my inclination to cautiously play along if I suspect I’m being “fedfished” by a girl on social media (and in my case, I suspect it immediately the moment a girl sends me an unsolicited DM of any kind). If the message is soon accompanied by compliments on my appearance, intelligence etc, my suspicions increase rapidly and exponentially. It doesn’t matter how nice I may seem or enthusiastic I appear to be. My guard is up, and I’m taking notes. Maybe this is an “advantage” of being self conscious. Someone with much more confidence might not think anything of it to receive glowing praises from an attractive, nubile young woman out of the blue. With nearly 20 years of experience in online dating though, if there’s one thing I know it’s that most girls get more attention than they know what to do with. More often than not, if they message you quickly and express an unusually aggressive romantic or sexual interest when doing so, something is up. We have adapted to reflexively recognize a bot or cam scam on Tinder, Bumble or Okcupid almost instantly, but when a “real” girl whom we know from talking about political or cultural issues on social media begins to intersperse a bit of romantic or even just friendly talk, we’re less likely to heed the warnings.
Of course, there are no advantages here. Why? because the approach will be probability catered to whatever the psychological profile of the target is. Since I have some narcissistic tendencies, it will usually incorporate expressions of praise and admiration. If I were to indulge in an extra bit of paranoia, I might assume also that the girl’s entire profile/persona will be tailored toward my interests (or those typical of those in the circles I frequent if not mine specifically). Also, I suppose that attempting to play along does in fact represent a form of overconfidence, in the assumption that one can subsist in this type of illusory interplay without succumbing to the psychological manipulation, even if you think you’re aware of what is going on.
In my experience, a typical interaction will go something like this:
The initial catalyst usually will have been my liking a tweet or a photo she posted, or perhaps my response to a status update (aka “reply guy”). Then she’ll message me, under some innocuous pretext related to my beliefs, interests, where I’m from, etc. Next she might engage a bit of playful flattery, try to mention that I’m “handsome,” “look young,” “have nice eyes” or whatever. At some point in the conversation she will subtly (or not so subtly) allude to how our circumstances are similar. She will make an effort to establish that we are compatible, that our energies our synergistic or maybe even that we are the same person (not literally but in terms of our general vibe). “Like wow, we’re totally the same! What are the odds!?” All of this sounds transparently phony as I’m typing it out, (and makes me want to barf actually) but when spread over the course of an hour long conversation it can present as much more organic. Needless to say, a small bond will have formed by this point, and the dopamine rush of romantic excitement will lead me to bypass the red flags. It’s also worth noting that a girl can be used wittingly or unwittingly for this activity. There are ways of manipulating the social environment to nudge two people toward becoming involved with one another in some desired fashion, whether it’s politically, romantically or sexually. No, they won’t remotely “mind control” anyone or force the issue. It’s just a matter of influencing probability of outcome, but I believe they are pretty good at it.
In a genuine interaction, a girl would not just readily give out her phone number or invite you to interact with her on other social media platforms at this stage, but this girl might. It almost becomes a catch 22. If she appears too eager or enthusiastic, she’s probably not real. If she’s standoffish, reluctant, or even a little creeped out, then oops she might actually be real. Even if you win, you still lose. To make matters even more complicated, the approach can be modified and adjusted if one method isn’t effective. So even if it applied before, most of what you just read has probably already been rendered obsolete. Anyhow, once you exchange phone numbers the interaction can quickly progress all the way to hanging out and more, depending on what the goal of infiltration is (surveillance, influence, handling, information collecting, or God knows what).
Recently there have been a wave of “astrology right” or “astrology fash” girls offering free and paid astrology readings to people in the dissident political sphere. As soon as one of them began asking me questions to put together my chart, I immediately considered that it might be an intelligence gathering exercise. It didn’t bother me though, because I’m not anonymous, and the answers to the types of questions she was asking (date of birth, place of birth, etc) could be found by anyone within 2 minutes of Googling my name. There’s no way to know for sure whether or not such enterprises are intelligence collecting endeavors, lucrative side hustles, fun hobbies or earnest expressions of quasi-spirituality…unless you’re like me and willing to find out the hard way. Pathological curiosity, idealism, delusions of grandeur and foolish romanticism all factor prominently in my personality profile, and they know it. The smart move is to ignore it all and walk away.
If you’re a female “content creator” or vocal participant in these circles and are under the impression you’re reading some kind of paranoid, misogynist screed, I’ve got news for you, it can happen to you, too. Holding “politically incorrect” beliefs can lead to social ostracization, the loss of friends and estrangement from close family members. Having crossed the ideological rubicon into what’s perceived as “hatesville,” loneliness and insecurity can set in. One may begin to wonder if they will ever find a romantic partner or close friend who will share (or at least be willing to accept) their beliefs. The vulnerability which emerges is ripe to be exploited by bad apples. Whether you’re a man or a woman, there is no shortage of them positioned to conveniently fall into your lap.
If this sort of thing never happens to you even though meet most of the criteria, then congratulations, you’re probably not the type of person who is viewed as susceptible to it. Don’t worry though, they’ll find some other (perhaps less salacious) way to get to you.
It’s pathetic that online discourse has been infilitrated, influenced and malevolently subverted to such a degree that one finds themselves questioning the integrity of even the most banal conversations, yet here we are. Think about how many innocent and potentially genuinely personal interactions have been lost, prematurely abandoned and awkwardly cut short in a social climate irredeemably soured by suspicion.
Brandon Adamson is the author of The Rats of Nationalism