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METRO: Ingrid Goes West dispels social media’s picture-perfect world

By Richard Crouse – Metro Canada

I wonder if, in 200 years, aliens will study all our dead Instagram accounts to gain insight into our way of life. If so, you could forgive them if they surmised that everyone in 2017 lived perfect, #blessed lives filled with the wonders of avocado toast and gorgeous sunsets.

The perfectly curated worldview of Instagram is at the heart of Aubrey Plaza’s dark new film Ingrid Goes West. The former Parks and Recreation star plays the title character, a lonely New Yorker who befriends people on Instagram only to get upset when they don’t let her into their lives. Fixated on a Californian social media star with a seemingly perfect life played by Elizabeth Olsen, Ingrid uses her inheritance money and, as the title tells us, goes west in search of the perfect life she sees on her phone everyday.

“Ingrid is in every scene of the movie,” Plaza says, “and I’ve never been in a movie where I’m in every single scene. It was exciting to me, the idea that I would have so much time to take that character on a journey and dig really deep and peel back all those layers. I really related to the idea of feeling like you want to connect and you want someone to like you.”

Plaza is on Twitter (@evilhag‏) and Instagram (plazadeaubrey) but says the movie reinforced the idea that everything on social media is not real life.

“It really reminded me of how all of the perfect, beautiful things you see are not real,” she says. “They’re purposeful. The film is a great reminder that we are all flawed and we have to be careful about the stories we tell about ourselves. I think it is important to build awareness about how it makes us feel at the end of the day.

“For me, personally, I always try to be authentic in every way that I can, but it really hard on social media because you have so much control over what you can show. As a consumer of it I think the movie has taught me that it is not always what it seems.”

Ingrid Goes West has the makings of either a comedy or psychological thriller but mostly plays like a cautionary tale. As a portrait of a woman who buys into the InstaMyth of an effortlessly curated life, it’s a withering comment on the real stories behind social media’s hashtagged pictures. Unlike her onscreen alter ego Plaza understands ‘likes” do not equal love.

“I’m really interested in talking about social media and encouraging other people to talk about it and how it is affecting them and how much time they spend on it,” she says, before adding, “Personally I hope it goes away. I hope it doesn’t stick around forever. I’m sure it will change. It will morph into something else.”

The thirty-three year old actress admits social media has positive aspects but remains sceptical of its effects.

“There are people who get support there and it is a global connector so I don’t want to dismiss those parts of it,” she says, “but I think there is something so isolating about it. That is what I really don’t like. There is more value in being present and living in the world that you are in.”

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