Tue, Aug 08, 2017 - Page 13 News List

Instagram jealousy on the big screen

New indie film provides a satirical but sobering look at ‘social media envy’

By Lindsay Bahr  /  AP, LOS ANGELES

“It’s really confusing sometimes. It can be a really great tool as an actor and a public figure,” Plaza says. “But then the flip side is that that can sometimes be really invasive and it’s hard to navigate because it’s too much access and too much awareness. It’s hard to find a balance.”

In fact, Olsen, once a social media detractor, only joined because of the film. Now she has 668,000 Instagram followers.

“Honestly I have less of a judgment against it because of this movie,” Olsen says. “I think I’m starting to figure out that there is a way to poke fun at it but also use it to your benefit.”


Ingrid and “Nosedive” are scratching at the surface of something that the social sciences are trying to explain through exploring how lives are actually affected by social media.

One study from the Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health at the University of Pittsburgh found that heavy use of platforms like Facebook and Instagram among adults ages 19 to 32 is associated with feelings of social isolation.

Another from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that overall, “The use of Facebook was negatively associated with well-being.”

Karen North, a psychologist and director of the University of Southern California’s Digital Social Media Program cautions against headlines that project conclusions on correlation. “There are things that we’ve known for decades about human behavior and social dynamics, those will not change, but now it’s mediated by digital devices,” North says. “It’s easier to find likeminded people, but at the same time it accentuates problems of human interaction.”

North likes to think about it in terms of the Boomerang Effect. Essentially, when you get your expectations up about something that can help you and then it doesn’t, you end up feeling more hopeless than before.

“There’s a term called depressive realism. People who have a tendency to be depressed are often more realistic about themselves, whereas other people continue to enjoy the fantasy of the way they want their lives to be on social media,” North says. “People present their lives to each other in a way that embellishes their lives. For people who tend to be depressed, they somehow believe that other people’s posts are accurate.”

Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker echoed this sentiment in an interview last year. “Usually, the technology isn’t to blame in the stories,” Brooker says. “It’s just facilitating some weakness in our character.”

Films about tech can have a shorter shelf life than milk, but Ingrid Goes West seems especially of-the-moment both in its aesthetic and story. “We shot it and made it so quickly that it does feel still somewhat relevant,” Spicer says.

It might also make you think twice about snapping an Instagram of your avocado toast, no matter how many likes it will get you.

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