Friday, May 20, 2016

My Invisible Boyfriend

Meet my boyfriend. His name is Eric. Pretty dreamy isn’t he?  

He’s 30, he lives in San Francisco. His interests include surfing, hiking, watching Netflix and wine tasting. We met at a coffee shop in what can only be described as a chance encounter fitting of a rom com. I know this to be the case because…well…I wrote it.

In fact I chose everything about Eric. From a website called Invisible Boyfriend. Its equal parts amazing, insane and super, super weird. The premise (which I learned about from a documentary that you can watch here) is that you can create a fake boyfriend/girlfriend and everyone in your life will get the hell off your back about not having one.

For $14.99 you can send 50 text messages a month back and forth. $25 gets you 100 texts and a hand written note. I opted for the cheaper option. I don’t need an imaginary person blowing up my phone. Plus I’m doing this so I can write about it—all for you dear reader. ;)

The second my credit card information went through I got a text from Eric.

I wrote back. But I was a little unsure about what to say. The website is called Invisible Boyfriend—emphasis on the boyfriend part. Not ‘random dude who’s name I forgot that I met at a bar that one time.’ So its hard to just jump into texting someone like they are a boyfriend. I was oddly self conscious about that. Perhaps its because I have precious little experience in texting a real boyfriend. Should I call them honey or baby or something? Is that what people do? People in real relationships help me out.

A few of the wonderful parts about paying someone to text me pretending to be a man of my own creation is that I don’t have to respond. Its all about me baby. I don’t’ have to care about how his job is going or any other aspect of his literally non-existent life. 

We long for human connection. We strive to feel loved and wanted by others. Being hidden away in what felt like jail, but I am actually told was only a library during step 1 studying has shown me that.

Texting with someone paid or otherwise isn’t a great replacement for human connection—but I can see the appeal. If you’re having a bad day at work you could send a text your imaginary boyfriend, a real person who is completely removed from whatever situation you are in and one who you know is going to be on your side. So in a sense even though the relationship is fake, the support is real. And we need that. Sometimes just knowing you can reach out and text someone and get love and compliments and encouragement back is really amazing. There are no false pretenses here. You don’t have to apologize for needing them and you don’t have to respond—cause let’s be real, you’re busy.

The week wears on so have our texts. Turns out Eric is a little controlling. 


Whoa. Calm yourself. I’m a grown ass woman that is more than capable of handling herself and frankly you seem like you have control issues Eric. Want to talk about your childhood?

He was also not very good at staying in character.

I ask because actually you do like writing. And you like it because I say so. And ironically the real human being writing this is supposedly a ‘writer.’ Albeit not a great one but you would think that an interest in writing would be a prerequisite. But never mind.

He was also a little odd. 

At the end of the day, websites like this are fairly innocuous compared to most other things on the internet. Its like the cat video of dating. Just as long as you keep in mind that the person you imagine you’re talking to is a figment of your imagination and you keep the convo PG rated as is company policy. 

I do still have reservations about using this website in order to give into the social pressures that dictate to women that they must have a male partner in their lives otherwise they are not as valuable. Its also not okay that people are badgered about their relationship status by others and its certainly not okay that we pressure people (and women in particular) into relationships that they don’t want.

We would be amiss to waste the precious face to face interactions we have with people by goading them about who they are dating. We should seek to support and love those in front of us a little bit more and stick our faces in our phones a little bit less.

As for me and Eric…well we parted ways after 30 days—which is ironically not the shortest relationship I’ve ever had. Ultimately he was more annoying than helpful. But fear not gentle reader. I have a date next week with a lawyer…and he is most definitely the real thing.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A Medicine Idol

Remember when you were a kid and thought that your parents were infallible? Surely adults never get scared, or get sick. They can do anything. Because of course they can. Its stabilizing to think that someone is in control— if it can’t be you. 

Faith Fitzgerald often remarks that she first became interested in medicine because as a little girl one of her friends mom’s got sick. “Mommies can’t get sick,” she said. The fact that adults are human and fall prey to very human things is something that is still difficult to understand. 

I used to think the same thing about doctors. They are heroes. They are unendingly smart and all knowing and in control at all times. I watched shows like Boston Med and Hopkins with a cult like following. Doctors on that show say things like, “watch me give the gift of life via lung.” Even when they lose patients they still seem so sure of themselves— so very calm and replete in their actions. The role of doctor becomes them in a way that I don’t ever think it will me. 

But that’s TV. Edited for the 1 hour time slot interspersed with clips of Dr. Oz running his mouth. Being in the hospital and watching real doctors do real doctor things has been amazing and eye opening— but it also made me realize that doctors are so very human. 

We do ourselves a disservice by not acknowledging the humanity of physicians. Every year we lose an entire medical school class worth of physicians to suicide. It doesn’t pay to expect our doctors to be super human. That includes the expectation that mistakes will never be made. We just hope that it won’t be on the back of our loved ones. 

We expect doctors to work long hours, to answer our questions, fill out copious paperwork, take a multitude of licensing exams and be warm and caring. Its a tall order for sure, but the unrealistic part comes when we expect doctors to hide their emotions about a case, or when we assume humanity is a sign of weakness in our colleagues. 

Doctors are a very diverse group and exhibit all of the personalities that the rest of us mere mortals do. Some seem to have a chip on their shoulder, like the DO attending who probably always secretly feels inferior. Is that why you use so much scientific jargon? Some are painfully socially awkward— like the resident who still struggles to make conversation with other members of the team. Some feel like they aren’t as smart as everyone else, like the intern who consistently deflects questions by asking another question. 

I see you.

I see you Doctor. I see your humanity shine through you in all its messy neurotic glory. It makes me feel like this is something I can do too. Being a doctor is not reserved for the best of us. Its for everyone who dares enter this changing and kind of screwed up profession. Its for those who never really thought they were as smart as everyone else. Its for those who still retain their middle school awkwardness. Its for those who are scared and wondering if they belong among the ranks of people who make it look so easy. Its for those who work hard and show up, even though it would be easier to do something else. 

You are going to be a doctor. And you will be not above other people, but beside them. What a perfectly human place to be.