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By Richard Crouse, film critic, broadcaster and writer. I Watch Bad Movies So You Don't Have To

The Value in Being Present and Living in the World

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Richard Crouse, film critic, broadcaster and writer. I Watch Bad Movies So You Don't Have To
Richard Crouse, film critic, broadcaster and writer. I Watch Bad Movies So You Don't Have To
Welcome to the newsletter everybody! I hope you like it, and if you want more, there’s loads of writing, reviews and other goodies on my website richardcrouse.ca! And now… The Value in Being Present and Living in the World. 

I just read a book called Good Burdens: How to Live Joyfully in the Digital Age by Christina Crook. A study of how to prioritize our real lives over our on-line lives, it teaches us how to “step out of your algorithm.” 
It’s fascinating stuff. I have often wondered if, in 200 years, aliens will study all our dead Instagram accounts to gain insight into our way of life. If so, they could be forgiven if they surmised that everyone in the 2000s lived perfect, #blessed lives filled with the wonders of avocado toast and gorgeous sunsets.
In the book Crook addresses the dangers of trying to fit ourselves into the internet and not making the internet and social media fit our needs. She writes, “Attempting to fit yourself onto the internet is like trying to shove your entire body into an infant’s sock. Impossible. Laughable. Exhausting. Futile. Be suspicious of any place, and anyone, where you must reduce yourself to fit.”
That hot take on the curated worldview of social media is at the heart of a movie I just re-watched, Aubrey Plaza’s dark 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 told me, “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 said. “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 actress admits social media has positive aspects but remains skeptical 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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Richard Crouse, film critic, broadcaster and writer. I Watch Bad Movies So You Don't Have To
Richard Crouse, film critic, broadcaster and writer. I Watch Bad Movies So You Don't Have To @RichardCrouse

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