As I started to watch Jonathan Ignatius Green’s documentary “Social Animals” I don’t know if I have ever felt so old. The reason is quite simple, this is a movie about Instagram and while I do use the app it seems I have been using it all wrong. I say that because I am so far removed from being a teenager, being in my forties I think I am using it just right.
“Social Animals” opens with a bunch of different teenagers telling us how they use Instagram and the importance of it in their lives. After hearing those tales we are taken through lives of all the common pictures everyone posts on the app which is amazing to look at. This story though isn’t about everyone, it is about three specific users and the effect Instagram has had on their daily life. You have Kaylyn Slevin who’s life looks about as perfect as can be who is using Instagram to build up her brand, the brand being her. As she collects over five hundred thousand followers she plans to launch a fashion line and see where else it will lead her. The second story we follow is that of Emma Crockett from Ohio whose life is about as different from Kaylyn’s as it can be. This is the story you don’t want to hear, the story of the power of social media on people’s life as they are shunned from their friends as the crowd goes against them. We see a normal happy girl who could only withstand the pouncing of the ugliness before she thinks of ending it all. Finally we follow the life of Humza Deas who as a photographer climbed the Instagram fame ladder by scaling bridges and taking mind blowing pictures along the way.
While this is a peek into this world, the three stories are the beauty and horror that is social media. None of what Jonathan Ignatius Green shows feels like it is promoting or disparaging, but instead just pointing out the highs and lows of the app. You are engaged in all the stories and while you might be a little jealous and sad at what you see, you will still end up feel good by the end. Green uses stories from other users as well creating buffers between what feels like chapters in these three users lives that opens your eyes to this world if you knew nothing about it before. This is a documentary to watch with your teenagers at home or if you just want to learn about this world as Green takes you to places you might not have gone, that being the sometimes unique and complicated world of Instagram.