Internet Time Machine

Lifestyles of the Fake and Lonely

The truth about pretending to be someone else on the internet

Harris Sockel
Human Parts
Published in
5 min readDec 18, 2019


Illustration: Jesse Zhang

This story is part of the Internet Time Machine, a collection about life online in the 2010s.

CConnor is 27, with green eyes and a dorky grin. His favorite emoji is the shaka (🤙), which he uses to express a casual DTF energy. He’s tan and toned, athletic yet approachable, and his profile photos resemble ads for a millennial lifestyle brand. There goes Connor, throwing up a peace sign on Runyon Canyon. Surfing as the sun sets over Manhattan Beach. A mirror selfie, an action shot, an abdominal V.

Connor is your average thirst trap next door. Also, I created him in the palm of my hand.

The photos are a friend’s. Sorry. Not a friend’s. A friend of a former roommate of a distant acquaintance’s, the hottest friend of a former roommate of a distance acquaintance I know. I found them on Instagram, screenshotted a select few, and cropped out the identifying details with no one’s permission but my own. It felt harmless, or fun, or necessary, somehow, in the way chronic loneliness can make you believe many unnecessary things are necessary.

I know. I’m sorry.