Has Technology Given Us an Artificial Sense of Reality?
It wasn’t on purpose, but it was on Tinder: my friend accidentally Catfished* someone.
Each one of her pictures happened to have me in them as well. This is common for online profiles — not to have me, Amelia, specifically in your pics — but to include photos of yourself with friends in order to show how much fun you are, that you’re social, and quite honestly to point to a larger life that makes whatever site you’re on a mere blip on the radar. “Oh that old thing?,” you can casually say when confronted. “I always forget I’m on there.”
Back to me, though.
So I’m minding my own business at a bar in July, and a guy comes up and whispers kind of, er, gently, in my ear. (Note to humans: do not do this.) “Julia, I presume?”
I whirled around and found myself face to face with someone who I saw as a complete stranger. He, however, clearly saw me as the girl he’d been talking to for a few weeks.
“Think you have the wrong girl,” I said. “You matched with my friend Julia on Tinder, and I’m in all of her pictures. But I’ve never spoken to you before.”
He wasn’t having it. I don’t blame him because he probably saw me doing my infamous Sprinkler Arm/knee-to-elbow ’80s combo on the dance floor, but the damage-control it took to make him understand that he and I had not, in fact, been chatting on a mobile dating app was on a whole new level.
How do you convince someone of a truth when they’ve already willingly suspended their disbelief? And the longer that truth hangs in suspension, the higher it rises, as if one’s perception acts as helium for a giant balloon of truth.
I think that’s how so many people on MTV’s Catfish get caught up in a real love affair despite never having met the person on the other end of the relationship. What starts as a game, essentially, turns into intrigue, and then hope, and then before too long whatever it was becomes reality.
All of this sort of loosely ties in to Michael Cera’s recent post for the New Yorker titled “My Man Jeremy.” In it he transcribes the strange, fascinating conversation between himself and a guy (Jeremy) who began as a stranger accidentally texting a wrong number. Cera, being perfect, decided to not let this person out of his life and instead turned him into a friend.
I can’t tell if it’s real or not. Leandra says it can’t be, but I kind of hope it is.
And how interesting. There it is again, that idea of hope encouraging my mind to believe something is real — even when that “something” is a piece published in the typically-fictional section of The New Yorker.
So what do you think? Has technology, whether it’s texting, Tinder, online dating, Facebook, Twitter, etc., given us a sense of artificial reality? Or is it our human nature of feeling hope that encourages our imagination to lie to our brain? Let’s get deep.
– Amelia Diamond
*To Catfish someone, in case you don’t watch MTV (*cough*), means to trick someone online using a fake identity, usually for the purpose of romantic pursuits.