The Co’s Katherine Gougeon explores social and cultural details that have an outsized ripple effect. Follow her on Twitter @kgougeon

 

There’s something endlessly fascinating about the idea that everyone has a double. Somewhere, out there, is someone who looks just like you, with a job, a social network, a personality and a life that is better – or worse – than your own.

As a culture, we’ve feasted on this idea for centuries. Books and movies like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dead Ringers, Fight Club, Invasion of The Body Snatchers and, most recently, Enemy all tell the same story: a strong twin and weak twin, each working to replace the other because co-existing is not an option.

 

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Jake Gyllenhaal and Jake Gyllenhaal in Enemy (Canadian Press)

Even the entertainment media has made a meal of doppelgängers, serving up endless pairings of unrelated actors who look alike. Celebrity Twinsies include Katy Perry and Zooey Deschanel; Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Javier Bardem; and Amy Adams and Isla Fisher.

It is technology, however, that is turning this creepy but irresistible premise into a game everyone can play.  Using advances in facial recognition software to match faces that look alike, projects like twinstrangers and ILookLikeYou introduce the possibility of identifying and even making contact with your twin. All yon need do is upload a selfie or two and start swiping suggested lookalikes until you find your double. Like Tinder for Narcissists.

While these sites feature copious examples of successful matches, I had no such luck. Twinstrangers came up empty, and the celebrity lookalike site, findmydoppelganger had me pegged for Steve Martin.

My most satisfying doppelgänger encounter by far occurred offline, in the late nineties. Browsing the bins of a bookstore on a rainy afternoon, I came face to face with an author photo of my dead ringer:

 

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Me and my doppelgänger, author of Field Guide to the North American Male, Marjorie Ingall (inset), circa 1998.

 

For weeks, friends and family were convinced I’d secretly written an entire book – a really funny one – and published it under a pseudonym.

Now that was entertainment.

And maybe it’s why I’ll always prefer the analog approach to doppelgänger search. This month, simply by strolling through my neighbourhood, I’ve glimpsed The Eastern European Renée Zellweger, The Minty Keanu Reeves, The Claire Danes of Real Estate, Kevin Spacey in American Beauty and The Obamas.

Nothing like a Non-Celebrity Twinsie to add a little thrill to the day. Especially if you’ve already found yourself.