Fake Accounts by Lauren Oyler

"I decided to go through my boyfriend's phone while he was asleep. I'd never really had the urge to go through another person's things before."

This Village Voice journalist has a new assignment up her sleeve, and it isn't writing about the latest show, restaurant, or celebrity sighting on Manhattan's Upper West Side. 

Oh no, this one is self-assigned. Our sweet girl's latest assignment is her boyfriend, Felix. 

They'd fallen for each other over Berliner Weisse in Germany just 18 months earlier. She'd had five, just enough to cause a cloudy haze and to feel that nice Berlin buzz wash over her. And there was Felix, the European sun reflecting off his naturally tanned Californian skin. 

Maybe it was the booze mixed with the sun, or just the New Yorker in her, but our sweet gal plucked up the courage and emailed him the following day, not quite ready to let this one slip out of her fingers. Eighteen heated months later, and here we are, back in the city that never sleeps. 

Well, one fellow is for sure sound asleep tonight. And that's Felix. 

Like she said, she'd never really had the urge to go through another person's things before. But girl had her reasons. I mean, he had been acting strange lately. She'd been thinking about it. 

What harm was there? He was asleep, he told her he didn't have social media, what could he possibly have to hide? Questions, questions, questions. I guess that's what you ask yourself before you invade someone else's privacy. 

Moments later, she found herself locked in her bathroom, his device in her hands, typing in his passcode. And there she discovered it, within one of those little square apps with the rounded edges where we disclose so much information. Felix was keeping a secret, one where he hoarded tens of thousands of followers. 

An underground conspiracy theorist. 

"WTF?" She thought. 

I guess that's how we live our lives now. Our deepest darkest secrets locked away in rectangular electronic devices, tucked away inside little square capsules with rounded edges called applications, each containing photographs and text messages that could destroy us within seconds. 

The thrill and fear of it all. Leaving our devices unmanned for just a minute and our lives could be ruined. We hold them close. Tucked under our pillows at night, within eyesight at all times, never, ever without them. 

Oh, god forbid we leave them somewhere. Such a tiny little thing. So, so much power. 

Once our sweet gal made this discovery, it seemed that things went from bad to worse. His mother entered the picture, and you know how future a mother-in-law can be, am I right? 

Before we know it, this story took so many twists and turns that there's no way we can possibly go back to that January night she decided to pick up that cell phone. 

The night that changed everything

What I thought

There were things I enjoyed about this book; the focus on social media, the suspense of what the narrator might find on her boyfriend's phone, and the witty humour of it all. But there was also a flatness that I couldn't quite get past, and I found it difficult to engage with the book. I feel like there was an incredible opportunity for a story that just wasn't being told. 

A unique story idea, however not as engaging as I would have liked. On the other hand, Fake Accounts was a frighteningly accurate portrayal of the modern world and our usage of social media. 

Overall, I thought Lauren had a great sense of humour and a realistic view on world politics. As a young woman herself, she understands the connection we have with our phones and social media, so she was able to convey that message perfectly. 

Something for you to think about next time you're reading a book...

How many times did you pick up your phone while reading? Did you read the actual book on your iPhone? Did you take a picture with the book and #FakeAccounts (e.g.) and share with your friends on social? Did you text it to Michelle and be like "You so totally need to get this book immediately!"

I ask you to think about this because this book made me realize how attached I am to my phone. Like, it was a huge wake-up call. I picked up my phone 3 times while I wrote that last paragraph. Our cell phones, text messages, social media cations, emojis, etc. are like this coding language that we're all expected to speak these days. It's insane. 

Courtesy of LaurenOyler.com / Photo by Pete Voelker

Born and raised in West Virginia, Lauren Oyler is an American author. She graduated from Yale University in 2012 with a degree in English. Her essays have appeared in the New Yorker, Harper's, New York Magazine's The Cut, and many other publications. Fake Accounts, which was published by Catapult in February of this year, is her debut novel.

Fake Accounts is available at Indigo and on Kobo. Check GoodReads for other retailers. 

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