Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat. In the virtual world, everyone wants to put their best foot forward. But the quest for validation can become an addiction. The dynamics on social networks can cause serious damage, especially for impressionable young people.
We spend hours on “social media” – Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. We’re seduced by their unspoken promise: They’ll help us share our views, indeed our whole lives, with the entire world. In this virtual world, everyone is happy. Everyone has a perfect body, lives in a fancy house and is surrounded by beautiful people. Everyone makes themselves seem important, and everyone passes judgment.
But this constant striving for validation can quickly become an addiction, one that has devastating consequences for psychological health. And it is young people who are most susceptible. This documentary shows the real dangers of this “dictatorship of happiness” on social networks, and introduces viewers to some of its young victims.
Danny was 14 when he posted his first selfie on Facebook. But he didn’t get many likes. So he posted more and more photos in a desperate quest for recognition. Soon he was posting hundreds of selfies a day. He stopped eating in order to “optimize” his body, and lost 12 kilograms. Then he stopped going to school and didn’t leave the house for six months: He had come to believe he was so ugly that people would be afraid of him. In desperation, he even attempted suicide. It wasn’t until Danny made a clean break from all “social media” that he slowly recovered.
His story may sound extreme. But with the invention of “likes” and the concept of self-promotion, according to which everything has to be confirmed by others to be considered real, the creators of social networks are changing our behavior. Marie, 22, has 4,922 followers and her biggest worry is disappointing her subscribers. She spends one day a week tweaking the image of her perfect Parisian life. She spends hours on her makeup and takes hundreds of photos to find the one picture she wants to post. In front of the camera, she breaks down and confesses how vulnerable she feels – and how desperate she is to be liked.