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Gemma’s Gem of the Week: Netflix’s “You” Has Chilling Social Media Parallels

Gemma’s Gem of the Week: Netflix’s “You” Has Chilling Social Media Parallels

Following an eagerly anticipated release, Netflix’s “You” Season 3 has sparked a nationwide discussion regarding social media. “You” challenges its viewers to look at the parallels between Joe’s behavior, (aside from the stalkings and killings, of course), and our behaviors in the world of social media today.

We meet Joe Goldberg, a psychopath who stalks his victims. The further he delves into his stalkings, the more obsessive he becomes. One of the earliest and most noteworthy scenes occurred when Joe was able to reverse an image Beck posted and find her address almost instantly. This sparks the discussion regarding how unknowingly vulnerable we truly can be when it comes to giving easy access to our personal information. Furthermore, it’s crystal clear to see that Joe creates characters based on who he assumes these women are – without ever knowing them previously.

When the algorithm is structured to be a collage, (as Joe noted when it came to Beck’s Instagram account), it’s hard not to believe that all we’re seeing is all there is – which, a lot of the time, are the good moments.

We also see that, despite getting into relationships with these women, Joe is never satisfied. This is evident in his marriage with Love; he can’t help himself from wondering if there is still more out there, and thus spies on both his next door neighbor and boss at the library.

Whenever Joe finds a new victim, he fantasizes about already being in a relationship with them, and even acts as though he’s in one. Most of the time, Joe is living in a fantasy. Social media only temporarily feeds into our yearnings – the desire to be seen, to be heard, to be liked – but it’s never enough. Furthermore, none of it is real.

What’s interesting about the above photo is how Joe and Love’s therapist assumes this sentence is true and accurate. We see so many of these characters, of whom barely know each other, feel confident in their labelings of one another. How many times do we assume someone has it all just based on their Instagram algorithm? How many times does this result in overlooking the fact that these are also real, complex human beings who have lives and moments behind closed doors?

From the very beginning, we knew Joe had bad intentions, yet he’s painted in a very charming light. He comes across as handsome, well-intended, and “normal,” and there are many times where his bad qualities, even being a murderer, seem to dissolve to the background as we start to actually root for him.

When we see what we want to see, it makes taking the rose colored lenses off that much more tricky. Joe Goldberg’s character is the true embodiment of this statement, as we see the world of social media materialized through this chillingly fantastic show.


Gemma Farquhar is the writer of "Gemma's Gem of the Week" and author of "The Shape of Something New." She is passionate about the future of storytelling and welcomes all ages to her column.

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