Student Activities and Baylor Wellness hold exclusive showing of “Social Animals”

Student Activities and Baylor Wellness collaborated for "Movie Monday" and exclusively showed "Social Animals" which highlights the negative impacts of social media. | Courtesy of Netflix

By Lizzie Thomas | Reporter

Student Activities held an exclusive showing of the documentary “Social Animals” which was apart of “Movie Mondays” at 7 p.m. in the Bill Daniel Student Center (SUB). The movie was shown before it is released to Netflix this coming March in partnership with Baylor Wellness to raise awareness of the addictive properties found in social media.

The documentary, which focuses on the lives of three teenagers who have grown up on Instagram, brings to light the changes social media has brought on coming of age in the last generation. Staff from the Beauchamp Addiction Recovery Center (BARC) provided resources and a context for the film.

Stanton Corley, recovery support coordinator at the BARC, said he hopes that students approach the film and the idea of social media addiction with a humble and contrite heart, and that they would not be egocentric, thinking they are exempt from the negative consequences of social media obsession.

“[I hope] students can be at a place where they can soberly say, ‘I have a problem,’ even before they ask themselves the question,” Corley said. “I think one thing that’s a sign of obsession or dependency is — I’ve known people who are in bed at 10 or 11 at night, and it’s three in the morning and they’re still watching videos on Facebook. To me, that sounds like an obsession because it’s affecting your physical health.”

Dr. James Roberts, a professor of marketing at Baylor and author of Shiny Objects and Too Much of a Good Thing spoke after the screening on skepticism about social media addiction and made the case that it has the same causes and effects as any other addiction.

“I really feel that when we interact with technology, it impacts every aspect of our lives: how we feel about ourselves, how we interact and relate to other people, our physical well-being and our mental well-being are all tied up in how we relate to our technology,” Roberts said. “When Stanley asked me to do this tonight, immediately what came to mind was the term ‘contingent self-esteem.’ When I saw the clip, I thought, ‘What these people have done — they’ve abdicated their self-esteem.’ How they feel about themselves is contingent upon other people’s approval.”

Roberts went on to make the case using five signs of addiction that one can be addicted to behavior just like a substance.

First, the subject has to be salient, or meaningful to a person. It must also offer euphoria, or a pleasure reward for interacting with the subject. Secondly, the subject must cause a person to build up a tolerance: as time goes on, more and more of the subject is required to achieve that same amount of euphoria. Thirdly, if a person experiences withdrawal symptoms, they may be mis-prioritizing the subject and may have a dependence on it. The fourth aspect is conflict — does using the subject cause physical or relational trouble in the person’s life? Lastly, a failure to regain autonomy when attempting to cut the subject out of a person’s life is a signal they might be addicted to it.

Roberts pointed out that the subject could be using social media or drinking alcohol and in both cases, the person would be addicted.

“That could be anything that we do because our self-esteem has been abdicated to other people,” Roberts said.

Roberts recounted his sad realization that before smartphones, it took him a while to quiet down a class before teaching. Now he said he can hear a pin drop and many times, people can go a semester sitting next to each other without knowing the other student’s name.

According to Jordy Dickey, assistant director of the Student Union, the movie “Social Animals” will be released in late March or early April to Netflix, at which time Movie Mondays will show the film again.

“We get a recommendation based on current topics that relate to current events and that will start a dialogue in society,” Dickey said. “We partner with campus organizations, which provides and opportunity to unpack the topics and will provide the resources to continue the dialogue.”

Movie Mondays is held at the Hippodrome at 7 p.m., and is free to students. Dickey said she encourages students to check out the lineup for the semester.