It’s hard to describe someone as a “luddite” when their profession literally involves photoshop, and yet the synopsis of People You May Know boldly do just that to their lead character, Jed. Jed simply isn’t interested in social media. But a stranger in a bar tells him she’d never date someone she couldn’t Google, so he throws all of his values and deeply held beliefs out the window and we’re treated to a tension-filled scene in which he hovers his cursor over the sign-up button of several social media sites. The next day he proudly tells a millennial in a coffee shop that he’s on Facebook and she welcomes him to the future. Already I’m cringing: a film about social media obsession doesn’t even know that Facebook is so 2008.
Jed puts his photoshop skills to good use and his friends are impressed by the glamourous lifestyle shots he’s faking. But the millennial offers to do for him what she does best – make people famous on social media. It’s weird that a guy who prided himself on “keeping things real” is now spreading lies and watching them go viral.
This movie stars people you don’t know – Nick Thune, Halston Sage, Kaily Smith Westbrook. They’re okay. None of them are charismatic enough to transcend the fact that they’re playing people who actually eat Hawaiian pizza. Don’t worry. The actors may not be heavy weights, but what is quite heavy is the handedness with which the message here is preached. Just be yourself, guys! Don’t compare yourself to others! Nobody is their real self on Facebook! But in the end they save the world with a hashtag. A hashtag! #truthfultuesday. Get with it.
Actually, the lesson learned is quite embarrassing. He forgets to photoshop his arms back in and his dirty little secret is revealed. Of course an angry mob of Instagrammers comes at him with pitchforks. It’s pretty cringe-worthy but the film doesn’t pause for one second to really consider these lives lived online. It’s very superficial, which in theory is what they’re yammering on about, but clearly have not internalized. Swipe left.