@GSElevator, the gossipy Goldman Sachs’ banker who tweeted his coworkers’ misdeeds to an audience of more than half a million, is — it turns out! — not a Goldman Sachs banker. He doesn’t even work on Wall Street.
His name is John Lefevre and, per the New York Times, he’s a 34-year-old former bond executive who now (a) lives in Texas and (b) started @GSElevator as a joke.
Surprising? Hardly. These types of “reveals” have become so routine that it’s impossible to feel much more than jaded resignation when faced with the Internet’s ever-more-inventive powers of illusion and dissemblance. At this point, we may as well assume that every hilarious viral video was manufactured by Jimmy Kimmel, every oddly poetic spambot is a piece of performance art, and every insidery Twitter account is just some jokester on the outside, “pandering for retweets.”
In fact, the most interesting part of Lefevre’s reveal is the fact that neither he nor his publisher — because he did sell a book off the @GSElevator concept — seem to think the falsity of the whole project will bother anyone else. After all, it’s still “based on” his actual experiences in the finance industry. He still heard all (most?) of these things, just not in recent years, not from Goldman Sachs employees, and not in the Goldman Sachs elevator.
#1: I just want to be rich enough to not be motivated by money.— GS Elevator Gossip (@GSElevator) December 14, 2013
#1: Some chick asked me what I would do with 10 million bucks. I told her I’d wonder where the rest of my money went.— GS Elevator Gossip (@GSElevator) November 12, 2013
#1: Poor people eat so much fast food you’d think their time was valuable.— GS Elevator Gossip (@GSElevator) September 24, 2013
#1: On Valentine’s Day, I send my wife flowers with a card that says ’Congratulations’.— GS Elevator Gossip (@GSElevator) February 7, 2014
That defense evokes, randomly enough, the essayist David Sedaris, who has taken lots of flack over the years for transplanting scenes, exaggerating characters, inventing dialogue and otherwise adjusting “true” stories to make them more readable.
“Things that seem stupid as fiction somehow seem hilarious if they’re perceived to be real,” Alex Heard wrote of Sedaris’ work in a 2007 debunking.
And that’s really the problem with @GSElevator now: The narrative of that account was so perfect, so immediately clean and clever and digestible, that any deviation can’t help but disappoint. A mysterious mole, surreptitiously outing the goings-on of evil finance ne’er-do-wells? — that’s a story. But some washed-up finance dude in Texas, reliving his banker glory days online…? That lacks the mystery and suspense and transgression of @GSElevator. In short, it lacks all the juicy narrative elements, and without them, it looks too much like, well — normal, mundane life.
Unmaskings are the opposite of news because they take something that was exciting for everyone and make it exciting to exactly one person.— Paul Ford (@ftrain) February 25, 2014
Nothing is worse than finding out that humans are behind something.— Paul Ford (@ftrain) February 25, 2014
At least we still have @NYTFridge. Never change, @NYTFridge. Never change.