Comments on watching and making films.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"Catfish" and social media

I watched Catfish last night. I liked it. It wasn’t anything amazing, and, I think as long as you go into it expecting to know what’s happening by a quarter of the way through the film, you can enjoy it. But the film brings up something interesting. I was talking to a co-worker about this today. First, we both agreed that, while The Social Network is a much better film, Catfish better captures the realities and pitfalls of social media than the multi-award winner directed by genius and veteran filmmaker David Fincher.

Catfish really captures the idea that a person can, literally, be anything they want to be online. In an online relationship, its easy to be the perfect you, because the other person only see’s the you that you choose to show. The real you, the you that comes out in the worst times, or the boring times, or the middle times, you never have to really show those. Granted, your building a relationship on a lie, and it will crash and burn should you ever get together in real life, but you can get what you want out of it for the time being (which is exactly what one of the individuals in Catfish does).

The other thing we talked about was how social media (like Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr) is supposed to bring out the personal and transparent, but often times brings out the fake or the shallow or the judgmental. If you are transparent about what goes on in your life, there are people who become offended, even when they are not directly related to anything you say. There are people who think things you post are offensive, or inane, or pretentious (although, let’s face it, sometimes they are). There are those that use social media for the sole purpose of making themselves look as cool as possible (when, in reality, they are a lot more like you and I, but they only show their “exciting side”). Some people treat social media as a photograph that they are the model for. Their posts become a snapshot, a moment, by which you are to judge them by, forgetting, of course, that it’s very possible that they are different, in real life, than they publicize themselves to be.

I’ve been involved in various aspects of social media for years. It has been a release for me, and a way to TRY to be more transparent about what is going on in my life. Never the less, it always comes about that someone (or sometimes several people) disparage something that I do or say or post. You can’t win them all, but, if you are lying, if you are making yourself out to be someone you’re not, who are you really hurting? I feel like that was whatCatfish was about - The fact that, so often we use these tools to make ourselves look better than what we are, but, in the end, we are only letting ourselves and others down. We are only lying, or being lied to, unless we are telling the truth, and our “friends” are doing the same.

In the end, you are who you are. Some of the things you do or say will be wrong, some of them will help people, some will hurt people, but don’t be afraid to be yourself. Don’t be afraid of transparency, because, in the end, throwing something out there may be detrimental in the moment, but you may learn something. You may just learn that someone loves you for who you are.

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