Saturday, 7 May 2011

Catfish, A Life In Our Heads

There's an early episode of friends where Chandler is dating a girl "online". They've never met and it turns out that she's married and he decides he doesn't want to meet her anymore. At the time the episode was made I guess the internet wasn't the lifestyle choice it is today and he was teased a lot by the other 'friends' for attempting to date online.

Last night I watched a documentary called catfish. 

Some friends decide to make a documentary about a unique relationship that is formed between a photographer Nev and a young girl called abby who paints his photos. They form a friendship online and swap photos and paintings back and forth. Nev speaks to abby's mother and sister and forms facebook relationships with various members of her family and friends. Chemistry builds between Nev and Megan abby's older sister and Nev decides he wants to meet her. When he goes to meet her he discovers something quite unexpected.

I really liked the documentary, it really takes you with the film makers on this crazy journey. It's like a trip towards something that you've probably already realised isn't true but because you fell in love with the fantasy you keep searching for it. At first Nev's naivety surprised me, he was like a teenage boy, their relationship existed purely via the phone or on the internet and he was really getting involved with and craving after a girl he'd never met and lived thousands of miles away from. 

It reminded me of my first "boyfriend" someone I agreed to "go out with" via someone else's text message after meeting at the North Harrow Megabowl with a bunch of friends. He'd picked me and another girl but because I was the introducers friend I got first dibs. We never even kissed. He would send me texts about wanting to hang out when his parents were out and I would freak out and call my friends and have girly giggly fits. He was my boyfriend and when he called me a bitch and we "split up" and hung out with my frenemies instead I was pissed, but why? we had no relationship. We didn't know each other, I never went to his house, we didn't hold hands, kiss, or go on dates because we never actually met up. The first time we met was our only date and then a few months later after texting religiously every night he dumped me. The excitement of the relationship was that it was all in my head. I could create whatever I wanted in my mind and live it out via a daydream without actually having to deal with my nerves of actually seeing the guy or the reality that he wasn't all that interesting. 

I put it down to being a kid and being bored, searching for something and being inventive. And without ruining the documentary what Nev discovers is quite shocking as a viewer, and I guess what she's invented is put down to this woman's sadness and mental health. But nowadays is this dreamworld becoming more of a normal reality that's not just for bored kids or people with problems but for real life adults and sane grown ups? Meeting people and dating online is no longer for the weirdos and loners, everyone does it and hey if it makes it easier for people to find each other and in turn some happiness then I'm all for it. There's something about the intensity of the way people live through facebook or twitter though that doesn't sit quite right with me, I guess I'm old fashioned, everything in moderation etc. So much time is spent updating profiles to show everyone how cool and wonderful our life is. We share tit-bits of information about what we've been doing constantly and get comfort from being able to communicate with everyone at all hours of the day or night. You never feel like you're alone in the world. But sometimes it gets a little too cyberspace for me, for example I stopped following a friend on twitter recently because even though I hadn't seen her for months I was bored every time we spoke on the phone because there wasn't anything I didn't know about what had been going on in her life from her twitter feed. That's the other thing, phrases like "Twitter Feed" make sense to us ????? You even hear it on the news!

When I was at college a friend signed me up to 'Friendstar' one of the original social networking sites. He made my profile and put up pictures and told me to talk to people I didn't know on there and make friends. I was so confused, "What is the point?" I asked, "It's just fun, just talk to people" "Yeah but what is the actual point?" I was genuinely baffled by the concept. About 2 years ago I remember a friend telling me how his "ex girlfriend" had finally updated her Facebook status to single. It was a real blow. At the time I wasn't on facebook and didn't really understand what he meant, but what I did understand was that this was a serious thing in people's lives now. I guess it's a lot easier to live out your life and organise it on a computer, you can make it look pretty. I wonder how obvious the different skills that younger generations develop will seem. Kids will be genius's I guess. Is running around in a garden playing imaginary games any different to creating an imaginary life on facebook or a blog? Apart from the obvious exercise, I wonder if it stimulates your brain any differently?

On that note better put down the laptop, get in the shower and unlock the front door (16.42) Or at least open a window.


  1. I think you've hit the nail on the head here - people reveal so m uch more about themeselves or what they percieve to be themselves - their "inner" thoughts their "best" selves and its distant so it feels safer and m ore real because there is no chance to pick up allt he other communications signals. Converation in reallife is alot about what the eye sees - body language etc - some say up to 90%... but all this inner dialogue makes it more like a dream and I am sure great for immagination but that's where it gets dangerous. I know people that seem so addicted to thier laptops, phones etc... scouring over what amounts to that fantasy in the head - broken hearts the lot. I think it replaces teh really good hairdresser..... only the hairdresser conversation bearing of souls (my partner is a hairdresser) is in the public environment so its all limited... and all this Internet stuff is so emotionally charged because it is inner dialogue and emotional and feels safe - I've seen adults really get in a twist - how much more difficult it must be for teenagers with raging hormones and little adult experience especially when it comes to the heady workd of dating and falling in love and actually spending time.... I worry that my nieces will end up with boyfriends on the sette next to them texting messages to one another.... not quite knowing how to talk and go out....

  2. La computadora/ la Internet, a veces nos hace inhumanos y a la vez, crea una mentira que muchos desean que fuera verdad, olvidando vivir la vida real y no la 2.0

  3. My sociology teacher asked my class to search about how the social network can influence people's lives. I watched this documentary and it's really interesting how we can make things, feelings, and relationships behind a screen. And nowadays people also thinks somebody is crazy just because doesn't have a facebook or twitter account. We should really live more and care about our online life a lot less, it's funny but we shouldn't take this so serious.
    - Amanda