By Katherine Hynes.
Sofia Coppola’s new film The Bling Ring is based on the true story of a gang of Los Angeles teenagers who allegedly stole millions from celebrities in the noughties. The kids were big Facebook users, and desperately desired the celebrity life of those they followed.
To help research the film, Coppola says she hung out with Hollywood teens and witnessed the constant phone and social media use. “Everyone was texting, taking pictures, and I tried to put as much of that in the film as possible. It was almost sci-fi, this idea that living does not count unless you are documenting it.”
“It was almost sci-fi, this idea that living does not count unless you are documenting it”
The Time Magazine article cites hard data: “The incidence of narcissistic personality disorder is nearly three times as high for people in their 20s as for the generation that’s now 65 or older, according to the National Institutes of Health”.
I keep thinking about comments made by film director Sofia Coppola on how Facebook (and we can add to that more recent social media platforms such as Instagram) help fuel young people’s obsession with themselves and the celebrity world.
The teenagers in Coppola’s film are now in their 20s. Is it any different for teenagers today?
In my own pocket of teenage land, I get the unsettling suspicion that when planning social events some teens place considerable importance on how ‘photo worthy’ (ie social media worthy) the event will be, rather than just enjoying a good night out with friends. Coppola is right about the efforts teens put into documenting life. At a party for example, there are the getting-ready photos, driving-in-the-car photos, at-the-party photos and perhaps the party-aftermath photos. All pics are shared, commented on, and monitored for ‘likes’.
“There are the getting-ready photos, driving-in-the-car photos, at-the-party photos and perhaps the party-aftermath photos. All pics are shared, commented on, and monitored for ‘likes'”
Coppola says the Facebook generation has lost touch with reality. Living in their virtual world, teens are missing out on real life happening around them. There are times when I would have to agree with her. For example, I recently attended a 15-year-old girl’s restaurant dinner party. I was shocked to see most of the teens constantly on their phones scrolling through Facebook and Instagram. Every so often, one would exclaim something like “OMG, check out this photo of so-and-so’s party. I soooo I wish I was there”. Other guests agreed with her. I noticed that the faux pas was lost on the offender and phone-focused guests, but not on the birthday girl and her family. When it was time to take photos of the girl’s party they were actually attending, suddenly the guests snapped on their “we’re-having-a-great-time” party faces to pose for photos that would in just seconds be uploaded to social media.
Do you think when our teens plan and dress for an event, they’re a little more concerned about the ‘photo opportunity’ than the event itself?
Do you ever feel like they’re missing out on real world experiences happening around them when they’re in the virtual world checking ‘likes’ ?