In A World of Insta-gratification: A Review of the Documentary ‘Social Animals’

(Movie cover art courtesy of Ravi Vora)

WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS AND CONTENT FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY

In A World of Insta-gratification: A Review of the Documentary ‘Social Animals’

By Katie Berry

“On social media you can edit yourself to who you want to be. Meanwhile, in person, you’re stuck with who you really are. But it’s like a constant battle that everyone faces, whether they admit it or not,” explains Humza Deas, a young photographer from the Bronx who became famous seemingly overnight from his Instagram account, @humzadeas.

Teens Humza Deas, Kaylyn Slevin, and Emma Crockett are the three teenagers featured in “Social Animals”—a documentary exploring the highs and lows of life on social media.

The film, produced by NoFilterPicture, brings a unique perspective to the crisis of social media in our current age. In between the three-part storyline, there is a collection of twenty “chorus” members—other teenagers—who are surveyed on a variety of elements of social media.

Even as a teenager myself, I was shocked at the way the generation responds to the sharing platform. The chorus of interviews followed a frightening pattern of self-absorption.

If I don’t get 60-70 likes per hour, I delete it.

People actually want to hang out with me now. Now that I post the pictures I post [bikini pictures] and I have the following I have.

I took a shower. I blow dried my hair. I curled my hair. I did my makeup. And it took about an hour and a half just to get ready for an Instagram selfie. 

It’s a lot of pressure making sure that you look absolutely perfect in every single photo.

Depicted within these interviews is a world according to the average teenager—one that revolves around how perfect you look on through a screen rather than who you truly are.

Now, according to them, the world consists of booty pics, DMs, and the number of likes one can get per post. No longer are teens fixated on being set apart from the crowd like the previous—now it is a race to see who can conform the quickest to society’s version of perfection.

This is a film any parent, teenager, educator, or church group should invest in watching. Although the filmmakers of “Social Animals” are Christians, they chose to not (spoiler) edit the speech of those interviewed. This dialogue presents a realistic, and in many ways terrifying, explanation of what it is like to grow up in the age of social media.

Contrary to other documentaries that portray the glitz and glam, “Social Animals” shows the extensive lows that come from an addiction to an online presence. These vary from Deas’ isolation from friends after his first interview with news stations to Crockett’s struggle through bullying, depression, and eventual suicide attempt.

Often times pitfalls such as these in a subject’s journey are overlooked—skipping to the end to focus on their happy ending. However, “Social Animals” does not conform to the norms. The lows are the most important part of the story—purposefully being emphasized to warn the audience of the normalcy of these occurrences in our everyday life.

In a world where people are consistently hiding from their true selves via an Instagram handle to achieve “perfection,” it is imperative for our eyes to be opened to the story from the other side of the device. If no one is willing to become vulnerable about their struggles, how will anything ever get better?

Coming from someone who once was lost in the addiction of social media herself, if I had heard stories like this when I was younger, I might not have felt so alone. Although social media was created with the intention to connect us like never before, it has single-handedly disconnected us from our real selves. This documentary is taking back the original intention by using its connections to help others by building a community around vulnerability.

This documentary, in turn, serves as a cautionary tale for this generation for how far one can go from unnecessarily placing our value in the Instagram identities we have.

“Social Animals” will be released to VOD platforms this December. To find out more information about the documentary visit their website: socialanimalsfilm.com.