On weekends, I spent most of my time scrolling through Instagram pages or my FYP Tiktok page-seeking entertainment and spontaneous laughter. And there I was, got caught up with a fan-edited short clip of Dylan O'Brien's appearance in a movie—or so I thought-with his buzz-cut hair and edgy sunglasses. My curiosity crept in that I immediately looked out for what movie he was in with this look and I found out it was a movie released this year titled Not Okay. The movie itself was about how social media can influence someone to do everything they could to gain clouts and acknowledgement from people around them.
The movie began with a disclaimer warning for the audience about "an unlikable female protagonist," and it revolved around a character named Danni Sanders, played by Zoey Deutch. She was an aspiring writer who worked as a photo editor for Depravity, an online magazine in New York City. Despite her enticing look with the current trending blonde front streak hairstyle, she found it struggling to befriend anyone, let alone being noticed by her co-worker Colin (Dylan O'Brien), a social media influencer whom she had a crush on. Therefore, she started telling lies for attending an upcoming writer retreat in Paris to impress Colin. She couldn't help but uphold her lies about the retreat to Paris by posting photoshopped pictures of herself in Paris from her Brooklyn apartment. To keep the lies intact with the timezone and all, she posted a photo of herself by the Arc de Triomphe the day after, letting all followers of her know that she had an enjoyable time in Paris.
However, an unexpected disaster happened in Paris right a minute after she lied on Instagram that she was by the Arc de Triomphe where a mass bombing by terrorists took place. To uphold her lie, she faked her trauma when she came home and met her parents at the airport. The story escalated when she started to gain people's attention for being a survivor and initially joined a trauma support group where she met and befriended anti-gun activist Rowan Aldren, a school shooting survivor who also had a large social media following. Being encouraged by Rowan who had been known socially for making several headlines with her upright faith in the anti-gun movement, Danni wrote a fraudulent article about her experience of being in a terrorist attack. The article which included the hashtag #IAmNotOkay was a successful move to her immediate fame and be recognized by society and of course, her long-crush Colin.
Unfortunately, jumping from one lie to another lie wasn't as easy as how she thought as she often experienced hallucinations about being followed by a hooded man who was accused as the mastermind of the bombing accident according to the news. Aside from the fact that she felt disturbed by the terrorizing hallucinations, her co-workers accidentally found out that she had been faking her trip to Paris and the whole staged trauma she stunted in front of everyone, for the sake of being noticed by people around her. The aftermath of this whole catastrophe led her to come clean about how she faked the whole victim story through an article she wrote and published in Depravity. Her whole life became a mess after everything she did, both the lies and the consequences after.
After watching the movie, I could say that Danni's character happens to resemble what most of the young generation often struggle with, being overshadowed and insecure about their whole being for they are always comparing themselves with influencers on Instagram who seem to have everything about that great-great life. The fact that Danni was willing to do anything to gain herself some followers and receive attention from the audience is something that we can see in real life, how people are trying to put on their best facade and flex their good-good life on social media to obtain validation from society.
How hard and immoral it feels to constantly lie about something was also nicely depicted in the movie, moreover when it's not a white lie but an insensitive one. The horror she felt throughout the movie after she kept staging her trauma and faking her vulnerability about the tragedy is something called moral anxiety, according to Sigmund Freud's theory. Moral anxiety itself is based on a feeling that one's internalized values are about to be compromised. There is a fear of self-punishment (e.g., guilt) for acting contrary to one's values. Moral anxiety is a function of the development of the superego. Whatever the anxiety, the ego seeks to reduce it. To put it simply, her terrorizing hallucination depicted her consequence for doing something that was against morality-insensitively lying about something that was considered such a serious matter, for both the real victims and people who really cared about the mentioned matter.
I personally think that this movie is such an eye-opening one as Danni totally reflects how most teenagers are doing right now with social media. I totally get that we always want to impress everyone, moreover there are many platforms to utilize as a stage to put on our best self and hide our insecurities, it's understandable. But taking it too far by faking an accident, being a victim of such a serious matter only to gain clouts and get validation is not acceptable. This unfortunately once happened in real life, the case of a young girl named Audrey was such a big talk of the town and on social media back in 2019 who was claimed to be a victim of bullying and sexual harassment by 12 other students. The hashtag #JusticeForAudrey was at the peak of the trending topics on Twitter, both in Indonesia and worldwide. Several influencers on Instagram and Twitter also jumped on the bandwagon by joining the hashtag party as an act of tolerance and awareness. After weeks and weeks of investigation done by the police department, the case turned out to be a fake one as there was no physical evidence of abuse nor sexual harassment. What actually happened was the students were just fighting consciously one on one for some teenager matter.
From the real case that actually happened and somehow reflects what Danni did in the movie is a token of how powerful and influential social media is. There are just so many people out there who would undeliberately relate and care about something that is not proven yet about its legitimacy. Either simple or complicated matters shared on social media could spread like wildfire. Knowing about how impactful social media is for individuals, you are expected to be more mature about it. Screw a big amount of followers, you're not supposed to impress anyone here as social media is supposed to be a safe place for you to tell who you really are.