Sites like Facebook can make us extremely unhappy. Seeing the adventures of others while sweatpantsing the night away can lead to a phenomenon nicknamed fomo–fear of missing out. But what if you could keep up with the Joneses as easily as launching a Netflix marathon?
CouchCachet is an app by Brian Fountain, Harlie Levine, and Justin Isaf that syncs with Foursquare to depict a fantastic night on the town. It’s billed as “Life. Without the Hassle of Living.” You simply check in from home on a Friday, and the app will handle the rest, scheduling an itinerary of popular events for your approval, then populating your feed with geotagged proof of a night you never had.
“The inspiration for the app was that twinge of anxiety you feel when you are home on the weekend and your friends are posting awesome pictures from cool places around town,” Brian Fountain confirms. “If the app makes you laugh, then it’s a joke, but it works, so …”
And it really does work. I checked in from my apartment in Chicago, and shortly thereafter, my Foursquare feed was populated with tickets to a dance company, a visit to a local club (where “I think the bartender is flirting with me”), and–my favorite bit–a “Yum!” posted from Donut Vault, a hot donut shop that opens to long lines and sells out before noon most days. Was I so important that they opened the doors for me after hours?
My friends on Foursquare only see my adventures. And why would anyone question them? Who would be so low to fake their own check-ins? (You know, other than myself.) In fact, immediately after posting, I was actually a bit embarrassed because there’s no real hint of parody within the app. These faux checkins are 1:1 with any other Foursquare update, meaning that while I meant to be ironic, it turned out that I was just a fraud.
Indeed, if CouchCachet proves anything, it’s not that my friends are suckers or that I’m a pitiful, lonely human being. It’s that social networks, in their low-fi, self-reported renderings of our lives, have become fairly authentic surrogates for actually taking part in someone’s life. And it just so happens, it’s a lot easier to lie to someone without having to look them in the eye.