SXSW: Social Animals

Instagram. It has 700 million users, and this documentary is the story of 3 of them.

Kaylyn Slevin is a self-discribed dancer, “beach girl”, and aspiring bikini model. She lives in her parents’ mansion and Instagrams herself rollerskating around its cavernous hallways.

MV5BYzc3YzBmM2QtNWJkNi00NDQ1LWI5YzEtNGNmN2I4YjU0N2U2XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjM3NzQzNTk@._V1_Humza Deas grew up in the projects and has come into his own as an urban photographer. He discovered his passion with a broken iphone and now has a serious Insta following thanks to his beautiful images often captured with some risk and daredevil antics. But when he accidentally exposed the subculture, he got death threats.

Emma Crockett is a midwest high school student challenging boundaries and testing limits on Instagram. Her parents don’t allow dating until age 16 but that doesn’t stop her getting dozens of DMs from strangers asking for booty pics. It’s a new world with new kinds of bullying and harassment and one wrong foot meant that Emma had to leave her Christian school to escape the nastiness.

This documentary is probably must-see for anyone over 25 because OH MY GOD it’s eye-opening and panic-inducing. I do have an Instagram account but I use it for one thing and one thing only: proof of life when I have charge of my sister’s kids. That’s it. Watching this doc, I’ve discovered that there are rules to Instagram that I never knew and break flagrantly every time I use it. Never post more than one picture a day. Did you know that? Like I said, I’ll post a hundred pictures of the kids on a weekend away with them, and then nothing for the next month. Never post two selfies in a row. Did you know that? That one doesn’t apply to me since I’ve never taken a selfie and realized I don’t know how. And I suppose don’t care to know. But teenagers, they know. They take this shit seriously, looking for love, for acceptance, but also constantly comparing and dealing with jealousy and envy. And competing for likes! And followers. And fame.

Humza takes thoughtful, inspired photos and deserves to be known for his work and his artistry. Emma is a kid who needs hugs and understanding. With Instagram’s sole purpose seeming to make popularity extremely quantifiable, it’s a dangerous beast to tussle with, and has dire consequences for some. Kaylyn is also just a kid, one who has fallen head-first into the image-obsessed culture of Instagram. And this documentary really forces us to ask how self worth will be measured when how things look is the only thing that matters.


9 thoughts on “SXSW: Social Animals

  1. fragglerocking

    Wait what? There are rules for instagram?? LMAO. I’m not a fan of it though have an account I rarely use, but follow some family on it. I feel sorry for the selfie generation, what a narcisitic world it’s turning into.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. calensariel

    “And this documentary really forces us to ask how self worth will be measured when how things look is the only thing that matters.” OML…That is a disturbing question. Must see this.s


  3. J.

    Zoiks! Seems I’m breaking all sorts of rules! I like Instagram cause I can just post pics… or at least that’s what I thought!


  4. Kariyanine

    I feel so old. I have an Instagram but take dumb pictures of my coffee mugs and crap I’m playing. I mostly use it to check in on what my daughters are posting and to tell them to not post chain posts because they are stupid and annoying.

    This documentary sounds super fascinating though and I’ll be keeping an eye out for it.


  5. Liz A.

    I guess I kind of did know those rules. Sort of. But, my Instagram is all about what I’m knitting, so no selfies for me 😉

    Sounds like something I should see. Also it sounds like the same old teenage drama, just played out on a wider platform.



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