Weekend Viewings: Social Animals

allef-vinicius-ig-seteales-104792-unsplashAnyone can be an influencer and have a large media presence. Some people stumble upon it, and some people don’t want it at all. Some create an account with the purpose of trying to get high traffic and sponsorships, while some just happen to have a post go viral and find themselves dealing with the outcomes, both good and bad.

hans-vivek-230955-unsplashInstagram helps foster creativity. Like any other social media platform, there are a fair amount of influencers, but Instagram stands out because it gives you a space to show off your artwork, photography, and design expertise, whether it be the lunch you ate earlier that day or a photo of yourself in front of a mural that perfectly matches your outfit.  

The 85% of teenagers going onto Instagram at least once a month most likely do so for different reasons. There are some trends on Instagram for teens – there are meme-and-theme accounts, timing is important, and they want to do their best at making their grid look aesthetically pleasing. Teens use Instagram in their own creative ways, especially for self-expression, and sometimes the results can be extreme.

This is where Social Animals comes in. The documentary was directed by Jonathan Ignatius Green and was released back in December, following the stories of three teenagers: a pageant girl from LA, a photographer from NYC, and a high schooler living in the Midwest. All their stories and experiences with the social media platform are different, but there are still noticeable trends as you watch the movie. They all use it as an outlet for something and find a purpose behind it, but they’ve also experienced harassment and rumors through the Internet, some to a harmful degree.

There’s no clear bias in the film about if social media is really good or really bad, and simply interviews the three teenagers about how they use Instagram and the consequences that have come with it. Their backgrounds and upbringings have no overlap, but the film shows the effects that social media is having on Gen Z, not just on how they interact with others, but how they see themselves.

There are also a couple of interviews with the director if you want to learn more about the process and his views on social media and its effect on adolescents.The first one even includes two of the teenagers!

The documentary is about 90 minutes long and is available on Netflix, iTunes, YouTube, and Amazon Prime.

Warning: the movie discusses mental health, but one of the adolescents talks about self-harm and her suicide attempt in detail including her parents’ reactions. If you plan to watch the movie and are sensitive towards the topic, please view with caution.


Have you ever watched any videos about social media? If you have an Instagram, why did you start it? What kind of experiences have you had? If you watch the film, tell us what you think of it!

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Hi! The moderator is a research team member with a background in behavioral health. We're here to help answer your questions and stimulate some great conversation! We don't provide therapy and are not available 24-7 so please if you are in crisis, go to our crisis page: https://sova.pitt.edu/i-need-help-now We look forward to talking to you!

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