Robert Mockler's film "Like Me" explores the extent of our need to be liked on social media and the isolation behind it.
We are social creatures, so even if we say we don’t care about what other people think, to a certain degree there are some opinions we do consider since a big part of our lives depends on the way we’re perceived by others. If not, why would we care about first impressions or about following certain rules? Nonetheless, there are people capable of doing anything –and I mean anything– just to be accepted and liked by others. From simple things like changing their looks, to even risking their well-being and that of others. We don’t have to search too much to find examples of this behavior. Just think of all those silly "challenges" that keep popping up in the internet like the recent Tide pod challenge. I’m sure that some people did it because of the lethal combination of curiosity and lack of common sense. However, many others did it knowing the risks just to get more views on their YouTube channel or of course, Facebook likes, which is even worse. How did we as a society reach this point where we’re willing to do extreme things just to get a virtual sign of approval from anonymous strangers? Are we that desperate for validation?
These are some of the questions raised in Robert Mockler’s film Like Me, featuring Addison Timlin as Kiya, a lonely girl and artist who starts committing crimes and recording them after she uploads a video of her robbing a store and it becomes viral. Sure, the situation that’s presented in the movie takes this desperation for likes and virtual approval to the extreme. Nonetheless, the core of the movie is a very real problem we deal with today. Although we don’t know much about the protagonist’s background, we see how her isolation is “eased” with the attention she receives from her viral crime videos. The views and likes become a drug for her, and she starts committing worse and worse crimes, unable to fill that void that she yearns to make disappear.
Talking about drugs, the main character and those around her are shown consuming them, and the esthetics of the film reflect their trippy effects. As we witness her falling in a downward spiral, the colors and the ambiance of the scenes accentuate the tone of the film and make us feel like witnesses of the character’s downfall. The likes keep coming, the numbers keep growing, and yet she’s becoming numb to them. She needs more and more. In the end, the viralization of her videos doesn’t replace the emptiness that only true human bonding can fill.
The confronting quality of the movie, however, has to do with the fact that it puts in front of us a mirror of an ugly side of ourselves too. I’m not just talking about the fear of loneliness that might lead us to do anything just to be liked, but the fact that the audience is the one providing those void likes or views and approving of damaging behaviors. This is not so different from witnessing gladiators being butchered in the Roman circus, but now a screen protects us and makes the suffering seem as unreal and foreign, that’s beyond our reach, so we shouldn’t real care about it. These dynamics block us from seeing the true human of flesh and blood that’s on the other side of the screen, that’s desperate for an attention (and affection in some cases) that we’re not really giving them. So, in the end, that isolation comes from both sides and is twice as harmful.
If you decide to give the movie a try and watch it, and then ask yourself, why do you upload the things you do in your social media? Do you do it for the likes? As ugly as it sounds, do you think someone really cares about it? Now, I don’t say this, so that you go home and delete your social media, give up on technology, and try to live as our great-grandparents did. However, I do invite you to be more aware about the things you upload and their purpose, so technology will become a tool to make us closer instead of a wall that isolates us with the illusion that we’re connecting with others.
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