As I settled into my 100% cotton sheet covered (sheets you might find in a for-rent cottage), low-rise minimalist IKEA bed to watch Ingrid Goes West, I couldn’t help but feel a little trepidatious about it. Knowing the premise — someone who ends up moving to Los Angeles after obsessively following a popular “lifestyle” instagrammer and hoping to become her friend — I couldn’t help but feel a weird underlying shame-spiral coming to the surface. As someone who has developed the tendency of checking up on Instagram/Twitter accounts of certain writers, comedians, and pop culture enthusiasts that live and write out of LA, AND as someone who has the pipe dream of LIVING in LA one day (I guess?), I couldn’t help but ask myself: aren’t I sorta kinda like Ingrid?
Now, to be fair, at first glance Ingrid is not painted in the most sane light. She has a history of fully stalking people she wants to be friends with, and doing downright inexcusable, dangerous things in order to achieve this friend status. I would say I’m a fairly sane person and do not do things like break into houses or threaten murder upon those whom stand in my way. It’s just not my thing! But there’s something about Ingrid that’s undeniably relatable and hard to shake. In several scenes, she’s scrolling through Instagram, looking disheveled, double-tapping a series of posts consisting of trendy meals, carefully designed living spaces, and group hangout sessions at an aggressively alarming rate. She’s barely thinking, just swiping and liking and looking apathetic as she is surrounded by the remnants of several days’ meals and dirty clothes. Now, I’ve never quite liked as many posts as Ingrid does (I have seen someone whom sits in front of me in one my classes whom HAS and it was very frightening to see! At least liking posts at 60 LPM), but I have spent a considerable amount of time tapping through Instagram, catching up on the lives’ of artists and writers I admire, palm trees, neon lights, and cool art spaces often the backdrop of their faces and bodies. Sometimes this is a good experience and drives me to work harder, and sometimes it’s not.
Ingrid ends up becoming “best friends” with her idol, Taylor (played be Elizabeth Olsen), adapting her lifestyle completely, even when she sees glaring flaws in the practices of Taylor’s life. There’s either a social status that Ingrid will do anything to reach or just a desire to be loved and liked by as many people as possible because that’s what those thousands upon thousands of likes mean after all (this is all revolutionary thinking, social media is bad for us WE KNOW). But that’s not the point I’m necessarily trying to make. Just as Ingrid has moments of clarity throughout the movie (a scene in which she tells Taylor’s boyfriend how unauthentic Taylor can be around others, and scenes where she talks about her dead mother with her Batman loving faux-boyfriend Dan (played by O’Shea Jackson Jr.)), I have moments of clarity about the people I will look at on Instagram (I don’t follow them, that would be crazy! Wait…not following them seems crazier, doesn’t it?).
The thing is I don’t know these people. In fact, I know virtually nothing about them. Just that they’re successes and a general idea about their aesthetic curated in tiny squares. I can be inspired by them and find them hilarious and well-rounded and good-looking, but I’m not going to gain much by feeling myself growing envious and suddenly self-critical as I continue to tap and scroll with their aesthetically appealing content slowly taking on new meaning as some kind of fuel to an internal green envy fire (great now I’m thinking about that movie, Envy with Jack Black and Ben Stiller, did anyone else see that?). I think I have talent and a voice, just as I could tell Ingrid had one too.
I’m not saying I won’t get lost on Instagram or Twitter ever again or that I won’t feel envious of another person (if you have food and I don’t, I’m gonna get salty), but I might have a fleeting moment in which I feel I should be watching a movie or reading or exercising or laughing with someone or working on my manifesto in which I reenact EVERY scene in which Raven Symone does a pratfall, and I might end up doing one of those things! After all, I’m never going to truly know myself wishing for something; everything I could ever internalize and process in a way that is my own is right in front of me, just as Ingrid had all of the tools in front of her as well (she ends up gaining a following, but NOT in the best of ways as she was too far gone). At first something to easily scoff at because of it’s seemingly on the nose approach to social media stalking and modern careers became unquestionably relatable. And if we all can’t admit we’ve felt this way about others on social media then idk... you’re a liar, maybe? Work on that!
Ingrid Goes West is available to rent now! It’s a great movie with great performances and an awesome color palette!
[Editor's note: This article was republished with permission from