I spent the last weekend scouring the snowy regions of Utah to experience the annual Sundance Film Festival.
While sliding around from panels to parties, I Instagrammed a photo of Matt Damon and his efforts with Stella Artois and Water.org, and Snapchatted the culture of "Women in Film" and their impact on today's entertainment industry. I was eager to capture anything and everything before it faded from my memory.
I soon realized my once-in-a-lifetime experience was being lost. I was stuck behind my phone, behind social media, and I was living based on my iPhone battery life instead of in the moment.
Lucky enough, a screening of the dark comedy "Ingrid Goes West" woke me up and kept me from falling into the confines of social media all weekend. In fact, the film dug so deep into my Instagram-addicted soul that it made me reconsider the entire world we are so accustomed to living in.
Following a short stint in an institution, titular character Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza) aims to reinvent her life and social media presence completely.
Courtesy of her late mother's inheritance, Ingrid picks up and ships off to Venice Beach, California, in hopes of becoming BFFs with Instagram influencer and all-around lifestyle master, Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen).
The only problem is... they've never met.
Ingrid idolizes Taylor, living vicariously through her witty captions, fashionable decor, and perfectly angled shots of avocado toast.
Through quite shady circumstances that I won't spoil, Ingrid quickly inserts herself in Taylor's life, and the two revel in a world that is entirely made up. While we're made aware that every aspect of Ingrid's life is clearly fictitious, as a viewer, you learn that Sloane's social media presence is just a cloak for her imperfect life.
You see, everything is calculated.
Their well-being thrives solely off of a small device, with each move meant to increase popularity and following. Over the film's runtime, you learn that while Ingrid is the outright unstable one, every single character is compensating for something in their life that is missing.
Social media can sometimes allow people to find this false sense of comfort and seek out someone or something to fill a void.
How you represent yourself on platforms like Instagram and Snapchat for the sake of others is no way to live. Choosing the right filter and bringing in like after like should not define who you are or change how you look in the eyes of others.
This could be said for the sake of dating and keeping our love lives locked behind the confines of a dating profile. Interaction is kept to consistent flirting and back-and-forth messaging on apps that barely provide enough information to truly know a person.
And, when you do meet, chances are whomever you've been talking to could turn out like nothing you expected.
It's hard to develop any type of bond with someone online, whether through a picture-based app like Instagram or through a digital romantic connection via Tinder or Hinge. Unfortunately, enhancement is everything.
But what's the point of not being truly who you are online if you are a completely different person in real life?
Now, my intentions are not to deter anyone from using any of these apps. It's not like I ran and erased their presence from my iPhone after seeing this movie. "Ingrid Goes West" made me realize how far an obsession can go, and how to draw the line as you continuously scroll or swipe during your daily downtime.
The film's relevance is spot-on, focusing on a time where everyone plasters their life across various internet blogs and social platforms.
What it's taught me (and will hopefully teach you) is that there is life outside of a phone screen. How you represent yourself in the real world should be how you represent yourself everywhere else.
Live in the moment, enjoy the day and instead of whining and savor those moments when you have no service.
And for god's sake, put your phone down.