Someone is fishing in the pond – the question is who
On the about page on my blog I present myself as a 44 year old Swedish woman, a mother of two, someone who loves mountains and nourishes an old friendship for science fiction and fantasy.
But can you hold this for true? How do you know that this body exists at all and that I’m not I’m not just a product of the imagination by a 14 year old boy from Nebraska or a 75 year old woman from India who loves to do a bit of role playing?
Unless you’re a member of the Swedish blogger’s network Filmspanarna, which meets at a pub in Stockholm once a month, you don’t know. You can listen to your gut feeling: does this writing voice sound solid and honest? But in the end, it’s just a guess.
On the other hand: how much does it matter? Would it make a big difference if I was someone else than I’ve claimed to be, if my thoughts and ideas would remain the same?
People have had reasons to think about questions like this long before internet was invented. You don’t need a Facebook page to pretend that you’re someone else. But it has certainly become easier. Online communication knows no borders, but fact-checking becomes more complicated and takes more effort the further away from someone you are.
I recently watched the documentary Catfish, which explores those themes in a wonderful way. I don’t want to give away too much of it. There are a couple of nice twists in it and it’s the kind of film that gets more enjoyable the less you know about it on beforehand.
But I’ll say as much as that the base story is about an online friendship between a few young filmmakers and a family they’ve met over Facebook. They don’t mention to the family that they’re making a documentary, but as it turns out, the family isn’t telling the entire truth about themselves either.
When online identities are up for discussion, it’s usually to warn people, especially young girls, who risk becoming victims to older men who are preying at them and telling them lies to get them wherever they want to. But Catfish is nothing like this. When it was over I thought to myself that I had seen some fishing going on, but I wasn’t so sure who was the cat and who was the fish. Was there even a victim in the first place?
Maybe you don’t believe in the existence of this 44 year old blogger. So be it. But I hope you believe me when I give this film a strong recommendation. It’s thrilling, thought provoking, funny and heartwarming. Judging from the reviews that the directors of the film have had for their most recent work, Paranormal Activity 4, it seems as if the documentary genre is a better way to go for them.
Catfish (Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman, US, 2010) My rating: 4/5