On World Social Media Day, revisiting Ingrid Goes West — equal elements cautionary story and chronicle of a zeitgeist
The Instagram-obsessed protagonist of 2017’s Ingrid Goes West holds up a mirror to our personal relationship with social media
The findings of a worldwide digital overview launched this January famous that over 4.5 billion folks had been utilizing the web firstly of 2020. There have been over 3.eight billion energetic social media customers, and “the newest developments recommend that greater than half of the world’s complete inhabitants will use social media by the center of this 12 months,” the report noticed.
These numbers, whereas telling, don’t even start to color an image of simply how a lot social media has come to form fashionable life. An acknowledgement of the phenomenon occurred a decade in the past, when 30 June was declared “World Social Media Day”. By the way, The Social Community — about Fb’s founding — was launched that very same 12 months. However for the definitive movie about social media, we most likely have to look to Matt Spicer’s 2017 black comedy, Ingrid Goes West.
Ingrid Thorburn (Aubrey Plaza) battles an undisclosed psychological well being situation. When Ingrid pepper spays a social media influencer for not sending her a marriage invite — full disclosure: Ingrid and the influencer aren’t mates and even acquaintances; the extent of their interplay is that the influencer commented on considered one of Ingrid’s Instagram posts, which leads the latter to consider they’re the thickest of friends — Ingrid is admitted to rehab.
Her agony in rehab is what begins off the movie; she’s established as a sufferer proper on the onset. However as she exits the power and the narrative begins to unfold, Ingrid’s journey turns into a cautionary story, significantly for these unwittingly hooked on social media platforms.
On this movie, social media could also be a catalyst for Ingrid’s psychological sickness, however it’s also a coping mechanism. Instagram triggers her downward spiral, but in addition retains her sane. Via an encounter along with her social media idol Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen) Ingrid is pressured to confront the illusory nature of social media — till she turns into an influencer herself.
Taylor is your typical, chirpy influencer; she posts about mental books she hasn’t learn, attends events for the sake of social media mileage, and has extra photos of her canine than household on her feed.
Those that view Ingrid’s obsession by way of a judgmental prism at first steadily witness the exposé of her social media “idol”. Taylor looks like considered one of us, who has labored her manner up the followers ladder, and earned a lot of digital love within the course of. Sure, she could ask a sort gentleman who agreed to click on her image to take multiples photographs whereas she’s mendacity on a street while flashing the victory signal. Sure, she may ditch her BFF Ingrid’s invitation to a VIP social gathering solely to go for it anyway with extra ‘influential’ firm, and fake-frown at Ingrid getting thrown out of the identical do. However she is ‘regular’ as a result of she has a sizeable social media following — a nod to the truth that these days, you’re extra more likely to be thought-about unusual for those who don’t have a social media presence than for those who spend copious quantities of time on any of the quite a few platforms, pushed by FOMO.
Issues start to unravel when Taylor’s parasitic brother exhibits up. He positive factors entry to Ingrid’s telephone and figures out she’s been stalking his sister all this whereas. He makes use of this info to blackmail her for cash, however Ingrid retaliates with a self-destructive plan. After a sequence of occasions, she is seen fretting over missed calls and messages which are left at “seen” by Taylor.
A stream of determined one-way communication later, Ingrid is knowledgeable by Taylor that she acquired to know the entire story from her brother, and doesn’t need to preserve any additional contact along with her. This feels akin to a breakup for Ingrid, who sends Taylor voice messages that vary from “I’m Ingrid… your finest good friend”, to “decide up the telephone, b*tch”, adopted by “I’m sorry, I don’t know why I stated that”.
Ingrid finally grabs maintain of Taylor — after spending a fortune to purchase the home subsequent to hers, failing to pay the electrical energy payments, and extracting cash from her water closet solely so she will purchase a bottle of water. When Taylor tells Ingrid that her “life is a lie”, Ingrid counters by holding the mirror as much as Taylor: “Your brother is a drug addict. Your husband does not such as you. You had been a depressing piece of sh*t while you moved right here as a result of nobody would speak to you. You had been precisely what I’m proper now!”
Shaken, confronted with a realisation she’s saved within the darkest recesses of her thoughts, Taylor regains her composure and responds: “I used to be by no means such as you… You want skilled assist.”
This finally ends up pushing Ingrid off the sting; she overdoses on capsules, posting an Instagram video earlier than dropping consciousness. Greater than a suicide be aware, the video is a cry for assist: Ingrid says she’s recording it “as a result of I’ve nobody else to speak to”.
The video saves her life. Her former landlord sees it on Instagram and alerts the authorities. When she regains consciousness within the hospital, Ingrid cries profusely and claims she feels sorry for doing “a silly factor”. However within the subsequent second, she notices the balloons and presents round her mattress, despatched by followers who watched her Instagram video.
Her eyes widen with the joys of realising she is a social media influencer now. She scrolls by way of her feed excitedly to see hordes of followers commenting on and sharing posts accompanied by #IAmIngrid. In that second, Ingrid Goes West evolves from a cautionary story to an apt capsule of the social media zeitgeist.
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