Ever since I watched Not Okay, which was about two weeks ago, I haven’t been able to shake this feeling. Despite being someone who’s constantly rolling his eyes at the Gen Z placating in movies, who is sick of filmmakers constantly pointing out generational differences, who sorta hates social media and any weirdo that wants to become social media famous…I actually really enjoyed this movie.
Perhaps part of me felt I couldn’t like Not Okay. It feels like a movie about kids made by kids, and on some level it felt strange to find such profundity in a seemingly adolescent tale. But these aren’t kids…they’re adults. They’re important members of society and social media has a thorough effect on their daily lives—just like it has on mine.
Despite the narrative I’ve assigned to myself, I’ve felt this insane pressure to build my social media presence and find friends across generations from other parts of the world. I know there’s plenty of beauty to be found on social media yet all I do is focus on the ugliness yet I also can’t stop using it because people have to like me, right? This land of digital ones and zeros is so exhausting and inviting and annoying and communal and alienating and important…man. Part of me wants to cut myself off from it, while the other half trembles at the thought of missing out on something bigger than myself. It’s a philosophical conundrum. As all of those thoughts have percolated over the past couple weeks, I’ve grown a fond attachment to Not Okay.
When the movie finished, I had an inkling feeling that I’d witnessed something intensely introspective and legitimately piercing. Sure, there were moments in the movie that felt cliche and ludicrous. I would think, “Do people really act like this? Is this really a commentary on real life?” But…isn’t that the nature of social media? The narratives we try to paint about ourselves are constantly in a battle with the narratives others try to paint for us. Basically, it causes normal people to do crazy things.
Danni believes she is in a battle for her digital soul in a land of woke millennials and confident Gen Z’ers. But none of that matters until she finds herself—that’s the part I connected with. Danni’s loneliness and depression is real and rooted in something much deeper. And she won’t be able to become part of this new digital world until she addresses those issues.
This realization is what made the movie hit: that I’m not ready for the digital world. I have a lot of work to do on myself before I can truly find my voice online and forge meaningful connections. I can barely do that in person—so why the heck would social media be any easier? It’s all a lie, it’s all a front in the digital arena. You can make yourself seem as cool and accomplished and confident as you want. But in the end, you’re still you. And you’re still your own worst enemy. Avoiding the most important battle of your life is losing that battle, and that’s what leads to the intense loneliness and depression that Danni feels—that I violently relate to.
This movie’s non-ending is really a philosophical ending that forces me to reckon with that reality. And it’s about time I did.