Has Technology Given Us an Artificial Sense of Reality?

by Leandra Medine
November 19, 2013
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catfishCOGIt 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.

REPLIES
  • Jessica Rose

    If he looked like Ryan Gosling…would you had gone along with it!?!

    http://vodkaandarose.blogspot.co.uk
    Jess. x

    • Amelia Diamond

      No! (Yes.)

  • Samantha Penner

    Great post! I think that’s the main problem people contribute to or a victim of on tinder, sometimes online dating, or dating/talking to someone mainly through text or email. Instead of letting things unfold naturally, You spend time crafting witty responses, get to enhance pictures, and essentially create a fantasy that may not be based in reality whatsoever. Sounds like what that guy did to you, Amelia! He projected what he THOUGHT was his “tinder” girl and couldn’t deal when reality didn’t match his fantasy.

  • Quinn

    I think what technology has given us, is instant gratification, essentially, an inability to focus on things for a long amount of time. Tinder may not be the best example for this (I’ve never used it), but it’s an automatic “yes” or “no”. I think it is safe for me to say, that each year we grow, and so does technology. When I was younger it was not as prominent as it is in my life now, but from ages 0-present day, I have always day dreamed. In class, before bed, in the car, everywhere. Technology cannot take away a human emotion, but it can provide more reasons for us to day dream. HE texts first, or she’s that girl on Tinder

  • https://www.etsy.com/shop/amatoriaclothing Amatoria Clothing

    Amelia, just the thought of a guy doing that makes me gag! UGH!
    I think technology has a weird way of making you feel less close to those around you, and closer to people you may have never even met. We are all guilty of staring at our phones instead of having a real conversation with the live person next to us!
    On the plus side, Twitter/Instagram have actually helped me meet some interesting and charming girls and started what I can only describe as “long distance friendships”. It’s like a love story for the digital age, except that I look forward to having brunch, not intercourse.

  • lavieetdemie.blogspot.com

    i think it always has…even before fb or tinder or whatever…people will create the reality they wish to…even if you havent really twisted any truth, they will see it in another light…as amusing or quirky…and then you meet them and of course the natural reaction is to reject anything that contradicts the “ideal” picture they’ve come to believe…even rejecting the person altogether and moving on to “create” another reality…but every so often, people do make real connections and become friends for life…i guess my point is we lie to ourselves all the time…and it’s not just because of hope… =)

  • Coco Ho

    Social networks may seem to let us stay connected but I think they are actually pulling us apart. I read an article abt this issue earlier and thought it might b good to share here.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/03/education/edlife/looking-for-intimacy-in-the-age-of-facebook.html?_r=0

  • http://b-tg.tumblr.com/ Colleen Garrity

    People knock online dating for not being ‘real’ or ‘authentic’ all the time (but couldn’t getting gussied up and going to a bar and flirting be the same thing?), but I met the love of my life on OkCupid. It felt like one of the most natural things in the world.

    I think it’s all about the attitude that you approach the platform with, and not the actual technology/social media itself.

    • Alex Poirier

      Aziz Ansari discusses this exact thing in his new special on NetFlix if you haven’t seen it!

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