The Washington Post

@GSElevator, David Sedaris and the disillusionment of “unmaskings”

@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.

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.

At least we still have @NYTFridge. Never change, @NYTFridge. Never change.

Caitlin Dewey is The Post’s digital culture critic. Follow her on Twitter @caitlindewey or subscribe to her daily newsletter on all things Internet. (



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
Be a man and cry
Program turns prisoners into poets
Unconventional warfare with a side of ale
Play Videos
The signature dish of Charleston, S.C.
For good coffee, sniff, slurp and spit
The most interesting woman you've never heard of
Play Videos
How to prevent 'e-barrassment'
The art of tortilla-making
A man committed to journalism, caught in the crossfire
Play Videos
Tips for (relatively) stress-free dining out with kids
How to get organized for back to school
How the new credit card chip makes purchases more secure
Next Story
Emily Yahr · February 25, 2014

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.