Photo: Pete Voelker

Is It Even Possible to Be an Authentic Person Online?

Lauren Oyler on the Millennial long con of simply being alive

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“People often say my generation values authenticity,” remarks the unnamed narrator of Lauren Oyler’s new novel, Fake Accounts. It’s the kind of statement that begs to be read wryly under most circumstances, including those of Oyler’s narrator — who, in the wake of Donald Trump’s election as U.S. president, has discovered her boyfriend’s clandestine double life as a popular alt-right conspiracy theorist on social media. Eventually, she becomes an online con artist of sorts, too.

Oyler doesn’t have her protagonist put a name to “my generation” until much later. But she doesn’t need to. Millennials — having been formed by both “the unspoiled period that stretched from our birth to the moment our parents had the screeching dial-up installed,” as Oyler’s narrator observes, and by everything that came next — may be uniquely positioned to notice “the ways in which we casually commit fakery ourselves.” And, reflexively, to don an assortment of protective shields that might circumvent such gruesome clarity. Irony, cynicism, fake accounts—it’s all fair game.

Fake Accounts teases out a preoccupation that underlies much of Oyler’s nonfiction and criticism — including a 5,000-word pan of Jia Tolentino’s 2019 essay…

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Kelli María Korducki
GEN
Writer for

Writer, editor. This is where I post about ideas, strategies, and the joys of making an NYC-viable living as a self-employed creative.