Michael Harris (Ryan Hansen) suffers from an addiction to social media.
We know this because hardly a minute of Friended to Death passes without its gawky hero brandishing his iPhone, snapping an impromptu selfie, and sharing it on Facebook — where, he likes to boast, it will doubtless be enjoyed by every one of his 417 virtual friends.
Michael relishes likes and comments as if they represented the highest gesture of validation. He speaks of Twitter with the reverence fundamentalists reserve for scripture. And he says aloud what teenagers haven’t even written in earnest in since the ’90s: “I’ll BRB,” he likes to exclaim on his way out the door, adding perhaps a flourish of “WTF” or “LMFAO” for emphasis.
Michael, it seems, is that most dismal exponent of the information age: the millennial so enamored of his online social life that he forgets to establish a real one.
Naturally, a plot soon crystallizes around this — he conspires to fabricate a suicide to test the loyalty of his followers — and you can sense the director, Sarah Smick, gearing up to make a point. It proves rather obvious: Real connections are meaningful and too much Facebook is bad.
But isn’t the real problem more insidious? People tend not to speak fondly of their time on social media; indeed, most are openly contemptuous of the platforms they indulge in regularly.
Michael is unfunny because his addiction remains unrecognizable. The real addiction isn’t to loving Facebook. It’s to hating it and using it anyway.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 30, 2014