The Brief: IGTV, Instagram's video platform has debuted the first season of a mini docuseries directed by Jonah Hill titled "Instagram Unfiltered," addressing issues of bullying online and off through interviews with young people.
Season one of “Instagram Unfiltered” is a four-video series of interviews with teenagers and young adults ages 13-25 in which they discuss issues of bullying online and IRL as well as personal identity, friendship, self-love, and more. Directed by Jonah Hill, this project explores the experiences of young people in the modern world with a focus on social media, body image, gender, race, sexuality, and disability. Part of Instagram’s larger Well-Being initiative, these videos bring light to the complex issues that people, particularly young millennials and Gen Z-ers face on a daily basis.
In addition to sharing the stories of twelve featured individuals, Instagram Unfiltered provides links to resources for people struggling with bullying, depression, eating disorders, domestic violence, and more.
Each of the four videos in season one of this series present young people opening up about difficult personal issues and allowing themselves to be vulnerable as they share about their struggles, anxieties, hopes, and joys. The series also celebrates self-love and self-care as interviewees show confidence and self-assuredness even in the face of bullying, peer pressure, doubt, and feelings that the world won’t accept them for who they are.
These interviews take place on cushy couches in front of blue and pink colored lights, while semi-ambient music plays in the background. Occasionally, Jonah Hill’s voice can be heard from behind the camera, giving encouraging words, greeting interviewees, and asking questions, but most of the videos consist of teenagers and young adults talking honestly about their lives and experiences.
In “When Loving Your Body Is A Battle,” (video below) three girls talk about their experiences with body-shaming and body acceptance, acknowledging the role that body-related judgement and criticism play in their daily lives and self-esteem. “When Banter Turns Bad” (video below) features three boys sharing about the difference between jokes and teasing and more malicious bullying. One boy describes when his friend created an Instagram account to impersonate and embarrass him. Another boy talks about quitting his school’s baseball team after top players would tease and make racist remarks towards him.
“When People Stare” (video below) delves into living with disabilities and physical differences, and how people can act judgemental and mean to people they don’t even know. The final video “When It Hurts To Be Yourself” (video below) explores how social media can amplify bullying and hate, making it difficult to find self-love and self-esteem.
These four short videos provide some insight into the ways in which technology and society intersect in the lives of young people. They’re a reminder that experiences of bullying, shame, and self-doubt, are universal, and that there is support and hope out there.