NEV SCHULMAN: FASHIONISTO
NEV TALKS FRYING UP SOME CATFISH + THE MET BRAWL
The ever so charismatic, Nev Schulman, is most renowned for having his online relationship with a young woman filmed in the documentary, Catfish. After having connected on Facebook, Schulman comes to find that the woman he was corresponding with, Angela, wasn’t who she claimed to be. He travels from New York City to Michigan to confront her in person. After a number of bizarre encounters, Angela confesses to creating over 15 alternate Facebook accounts to try to uphold her online persona. Henceforth, the term: “Catfish” was forged for all future generations.
catfish [kat-fish] verb: To pretend to be someone you're not online by posting false information, such as someone else's pictures, on social media sites usually with the intention of getting someone to fall in love with you.
Although Schulman may have been, in a sense, “bamboozled” by this woman, he also came to recognize the complexities of human nature in relation to social media.
The documentary became a worldwide sensation and was adapted into a popular television show on MTV. It features Schulman helping others who are also engaged in online relationships. He shares their emotional journey in meeting their partners for the very first time. When discussing the big conversation on social media, Schulman believes that real life, for the most part, is monotonous. “What’s most exciting about the Internet is the unpredictable chances involved. You put yourself on there and you never know what can happen. You can fall in love, meet the person of your dreams, or get a job offer. There are so many possibilities.” He believes there is a lot of good to be garnered from the Internet as long as you are clear about your intentions. The problem occurs when people don’t spend the time and energy on finding out what they want and then working on themselves.
With a new book coming out entitled, “In Real Life: Love, Lies & Identity in the Digital Age,” Schulman goes into further detail about connecting with people authentically. With all of his success, he says the one thing he’s learned is the profound power of listening. “I never understood how valuable it was. What I thought was my own interesting story, was much more about the story of someone else. I didn’t go to Michigan to confront Angela or call her out, but to hear her. The key to is to let people tell their story. And that is powerful.”
When asked about a time when he may have found his voice, he shared a story about one of his many suspensions during his early years. “I had beautiful, long hair growing up, people may have thought I was a girl. In second or third grade, it would always fall in front of my face and I’d have to brush it away. My teacher would yell at me and eventually called me over and cut it off. Honestly, I didn’t care but my mom was so upset! Let’s just say she spoke “very firmly” with the authorities. The next time I was sent to the principal’s office, I remembered my mom’s reaction so I said something along the lines of, “I don’t give a SH*T about what you think!” I was definitely sent home after that.”
In our conversation with Schulman about popular culture and social media, the topic couldn’t help but stray away from the formalities and delve into the intricacies of the infamous video with Jay-Z and Solange getting into a squabble at the Met Ball.
Schulman notes that we are fascinated with this for a number of reasons. Of course, anything involving Jay-Z and Beyonce is noteworthy but because it was a family dispute, everyone connects to that. What makes it so salacious is the lack of audio. Not being able to, but wanting so badly to know what was going on, makes it that much more intriguing.
In some sort of minutely correlating way to the “Met Brawl” video, Schulman believes that the show exists because people want so desperately to have the thing they dream of. The further away you are from it, the more you are able to convince yourself that it exists. Like with the lack of audio in the video, we can only imagine what was said. With online relationships, people get very little and all that space allows them to imagine exactly what they want.
Perhaps in one way or another, we are all looking to fry a little fish.