Editor note: Though we are a site dedicated to fiction and the telling of stories, occasionally something non-fiction will cross our desks that we strongle feel we need to cover or share. Social Animals is one of those movies. A documentary about the social media age, this movie goes behind the scenes of what it takes to be an influencer and also, the toll it takes to be in the spotlight that way. -Lori
Synopsis: A daredevil photographer, an aspiring swimsuit model, and a midwest girl next door are all looking for the same things from their Instagram account–a little love, acceptance and, of course, fame. And they’ll do just about anything to get it. With an observational eye Social Animals peeks into the digital and real worlds of today’s image-focused teenager, where followers, likes and comments mark success and self worth.
Here’s our take.
by Sydney Twichell
Though I am a part of this generation, I don’t quite understand the ins and outs of the social media world. I know basics on promotions for events, companies, and public figures. Personal application, however, is still as confusing as ever. I simply haven’t ventured into social media for these reasons, so it hasn’t been something I’ve felt driven to do. In fact, it’s only recently that I first downloaded Instagram; years behind my friends and coworkers. Because of this, I found Social Animals to be a fascinating and eye-opening documentary. My career goal is to work with young people as a counselor and mentor and so that’s what originally peaked my interest. Just a few minutes into the film, though, and I was completely absorbed.
The reality is that the internet is still relatively new and dangerous territory that everyone talks about and plays with on a daily basis, but very few educate the up and coming generation. I have seen parents let their kids on social media without batting an eye or watching over them and I’ve seen parents completely restrict kids and not let their kids have anything to do with it. Very rarely, it seems, is there a healthy balance.
When I was in elementary school, I was bullied relentlessly. And not just the classic girl gossiping about me behind my back. I mean full blown fist fights and being told to kill myself. I can’t imagine what it would’ve been like if social media was as big as it is now. Bullies now use this medium to make the bullying bigger. It would’ve followed me home and robbed me of my safe place. You can’t just turn off the phone or log out like many people say. The gossip, malicious intent and planning continues even if you aren’t there. The internet is always there. Social Animals demonstrated this perfectly with the stories of the three teens. Each of them had their own struggles, but the result was still the same. Their profiles would blow up with the world’s criticism whether they were logged on or not.
In this day and age, with a social media platform comes endless potential. The only reason I got Instagram was because I realized I could go work on my career. This is what makes social media so powerful. These platforms influence so much of our lives now that it’s impossible to escape it. This documentary was powerful because it showed just how influential social media really is.
So… what’s the solution to all this? That’s what Social Animals touches on. The basic run down is easy: Learn about social media. Teach our children about the dangers as well as the opportunities. Guide them in their use. And work hard to end bullying over social media just as we have in our schools. Social Animals is the perfect conversation starter with your teenager on the dangers of social media.
If you are a teenager, have a teenager, or know a teenager, I urge you to watch this film with them. It’s certainly an eye opener into the world we live in now and it gives us a good glimpse into what’s to come.