Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ca fait longtemps...

How often do people just play along because they're too afraid to admit they don't know what's going on? I hate that feeling. I wondered if other people hate it as much as I do. In order to find out I met some old friends strolling across campus, at least that's what I tried to make them believe. I wanted to examine people's reactions when I told them how good it was to see them after such a long time. I apologized for not remembering their name and tried to remember how we "knew" each other and from where. My goal was simply to see how much I could talk them into believing about our alleged common past. Could I lay it on thick enough that they would just feel too bad to tell me they didn't know me? Or would they just believe me? Would they be able to stand up to me?

Subject #1
Chris and I recognized each other. In fact, we knew we'd seen each other before, we just couldn't agree on where or when. Mild success.

Subject #2
Annie wasn't sure she knew me at first, but after I guessed her name was Anne, she decided that was too close to be a coincidence. We finally remembered we'd been in an American Heritage lab last year. That class was tough, but we made it through together. Complete success

Subject #3
Body language says it all. Cassie couldn't get further away as she assured me she just has a "random face" and I must be thinking of "some other Asian." Entertaining failure.

Subject #4
Jake was an easy conversation. He and I were in the same ward when we were little kids. Isn't it crazy we met up all these years later. Complete success.

Subject #5
She was not interested in talking to me. Actually she lingered just as long as some of my other friends, but she wouldn't give an inch. When I asked her to remind me of her name she said she didn't know me and had no reason to give her name. Her ring finger was inexplicably bare. On the bright side we'll probably learn her name when I'm reported in the Daily Universe's Police Beat. Excessively complete failure.

Subject #6
He might have been friends with the previous subject, he certainly wasn't buying our long-lost friendship. In the most caustic tone of the afternoon, he sarcastically wished me luck on "finding my special Chris." Maybe he felt he shouldn't look like a Chris. Complete failure.

Subject #7
Marissa was almost too creeped-out to talk. She gave it a good effort but couldn't seem to remember ever seeing me. We concluded we must have had a class together at some point since she is majoring in French teaching and I am majoring in French studies. Mild failure.

Subject #8
It has been a few years since I was studying at UVU where Jason was a missionary serving there. We both lived just behind the campus and saw each other often as we crossed paths going to and from campus. We were very happy to see each other again. Complete success.

Apparently people can be talked into some pretty crazy things when they feel uncomfortable. Some people really did not possess the ability to admit that they didn't know what was going on or that they were uncomfortable. Some people were pretty rude. Some people could tell that something just wasn't right. There were a lot of different people involved in this experiment, but the one constant is nobody liked the awkward situation and that commonality produced some pretty varied but always interesting responses. What made it interesting was comparing the different people and their level of self confidence and whether or not it was sufficient to handle the situation. I learned that I was unable to judge just walking up to somehowhow well I would manipulate the conversation and the person.


  1. haha. funny idea. totally realistic phenomenon. good candid shots.

  2. Sooo funny. I love how you got the last guy to hug you...twice! But what is with the hand on your back in the picture with the Asian girl?

  3. Great photographs. Great subject. I loved the histories you developed with people in just a few seconds.

  4. I have been on both ends of this situation and it never ceases to amaze me what crazy stories can be developed in a matter of minutes. I think the idea of trying to create a relationship with a stranger is really interesting. Good job!

  5. This is one of the posts that made me laugh out loud. I think it was a really smart move to bring a friend along so that you weren't some lonely guy walking around starting a conversation with someone you don't know well. And I love the asian!

  6. I love this project. Especially since BYU is just big enough that you see people around campus all the time to the point of recognizing strangers. I see people all the time and have no idea where I know them from, and this project totally takes advantage of that atmosphere here.

  7. Hi-larious. My favorite is the 'must have been thinking of some other Asian.'

  8. Great idea, way to put yourself out there! If only I were as brave as you!

  9. Subjects 4 and 8 are the best, in my opinion, because they capture the awkwardness of a situation that happens to all of us from time to time.

    The experimental quality of the project manages to pass that 'gimmicky' place and allows us to reflect upon the underlying social situations that most often we tend not to think about for more than a few fleeting moments.

  10. This is seriously one of the funniest things I have ever read. I was literally laughing out loud. My favorites would be the "some other asian" girl and the girl who might turn you into the police. Also, it amazes me that you convinced people that they knew you. Great project.

  11. fantastic, great idea and very well executed.

  12. This is so funny to me! The lighting makes it work. I love peoples' expressions!