It’s called a thirst trap. You post a selfie online from your optimum angle, making sex eyes at the camera, and wait for the ardent Insta-response. It could be a quick self-esteem boost, a sly declaration of pride, a jealousy generator, or an earnest solicitation for dating interest. Maybe the person who posted it isn’t even sure. But here’s the thing: Nearly every photo on Instagram is there for one of these reasons. The real thirst trap is Instagram itself, and what it’s trapped is you.
Or at least that certainly seems to be the case in the sobering new short, Me2.
Written and directed by Alex J. Mann, who is fast becoming the Wes Craven of social media, Me2 is about a young woman dissatisfied with her appearance. She likes the way she made herself look online, but not the way she comes across in the mirror. What happens next, though, is a rather amplified version of how it feels to be betrayed by your digital self.
“Instagram creates a certain kind of delusion,” Mann says. “We hyperfilter our lives down to the best photos of the best moments. Essentially, we create an idealized version of self that we can never live up to. It can be destructive without self-awareness.”
Me2 follows Three Seconds, Mann’s Snapchat short that currently has nearly 3 million views on YouTube. In order to make the new Me2, though, he had to use a different level of special effects than his previous micro-Black Mirror films. This one required a VFX supervisor to employ complicated lighting and one of those green suits that make its users look like Dat Boi.
The most important special effect, though, is the one viewers already bring to the table: the digital baggage of an alternative self. It’s something almost everybody has. Although Me2 centers on a woman, it’s creator fully admits men are equally obsessed with their self-presentation online .
“The film could have easily starred a guy,” Mann says. “Perhaps the sequel will be about a tiger selfie that goes horribly wrong.”