Remember Face/Off, the ’90s flick where John Travolta steals Nic Cage’s face — literally his face — and then pretends to be him? Ridiculous. Yet, here we are in 2017, and we spend half our day obsessing over other people’s lives on social media. (A recent report showed teens spend nine hours per day on social media.) If you’re one of the interested ones — and not going full catfish to some innocent soul — there are apps that let you experience what it’s like to be somebody on social media, whether celebrity, athlete, politician or friend. No face-stealing involved.
The one I’ve been testing is Antipersona, an iOS app that lets you experience life as somebody else on Twitter. Over the past few weeks I’ve dabbled with “becoming” several people — a soccer player on Liverpool FC, The New York Times, celebrities and a few of my favorite journalists. You see many of the same notifications they would see, including new followers, mentions and retweets. Even their feed is yours for the viewing (there are no direct mentions, which would be wildly illegal). You can’t enable push notifications, which kills dreams of plebeians (like me!) who fantasize about seeing thousands of notifications flooding their phone. Alas, someday.
Despite the social voyeurism, the app wasn’t completely satisfying. You could only “become” one person at a time, and if you immediately regretted your pick, you had to wait 24 hours — yes, a full day — before switching to somebody else. It was interesting at controversial times, like becoming Kendall Jenner at the height of her Pepsi commercial backlash, or Lucas Leiva after he was (mostly) responsible for Liverpool’s loss (soccer fans are villainous). But the app wasn’t addicting. And if for a second I thought that it was, the 24-hour purgatory killed that off. If anything, the app is a nice reprieve every few days. And maybe that’s more than you’ll need.