Why I'm Not on Facebook

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Why I'm Not on Facebook Movie Poster Image
Breezy docu examines benefits, dangers of social media site.
  • NR
  • 2015
  • 77 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Promotes thoughtful use of Facebook and other social media. Shows real-life consequences of Facebook use and abuse. Increases awareness of negative aspects of too much exposure, reckless postings, and invasion of privacy. Advances theory that narcissism and insecurity are prime sources of Facebook excesses and addictions: "Facebook is not the problem; stupid people are the problem."

Positive Role Models & Representations

Pinvidic and his wife model thoughtful parental supervision and involvement in children's Facebook activity. Using in-person, online, and phone interviews, the film illustrates how vulnerable and foolish some social media users are. Many seem unaware of the consequences of Facebook behavior, are careless, and make themselves vulnerable to ridicule and danger. 

Violence

Man uses a gun to destroy a computer tablet.

Sex

Some photographic stills (taken from Facebook postings) show multiple scantily clad women, bare breasts, brief nudity, and people in sexually provocative poses.

Language

Occasional obscenities throughout: "f--k," "s--t," "ass," "t-ts," "bone." A photograph shows one man's collection of "pee jars."

Consumerism

Facebook is the focus of this film. Incidental identification of products on clothing and in background. Identifies Sticky Wicket, a restaurant in an unidentified city.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Photographs show people drinking alcoholic beverages. Some Facebook posts brag about drinking, drunkenness. Filmmaker uses term "weed" to search on Facebook.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Why I'm Not on Facebook is a breezy documentary that aims to provide facts and guidelines about Facebook, the world's most popular social media site. Using his perspective as the parent of a young teen who wants to sign up, Brant Pinvidic uses himself, a non-social media user, as a blank slate to help decide whether or not his boy can join. As Pinvidic makes his way through the information available -- using interviews with both members and "experts," research, and, in some instances, personal confrontation and/or pranks -- he focuses on the most entertaining arguments both in favor of and against membership. Some of the best interviews are used as cautionary devices (school admissions officers, corporate recruiters, a thief), warning potential users about the consequences of reckless postings. The film contains profanity, used casually and often (for example, "f--k," "s--t," "t-ts," "ass"); talk of drinking and drunkenness; and photographs of teens in sexually provocative clothing and poses and even a bit of nudity.

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What's the story?

Brant Pinvidic uses his almost-13-year-old son's request to join Facebook as the springboard for a very personal trek through social media in WHY I'M NOT ON FACEBOOK. Pinvidic, a reality TV show producer, amasses a team of eager young people to help him look at both the pros and cons of being part of the universal presence of Facebook. Neither the filmmaker nor his wife use social media when the odyssey begins, and so, starting from there, he researches, interviews, pranks, pursues, and "psychologizes" to come up with an answer to his son's request. Mostly playful, and with irony as his constant companion, Pinvidic points out some of the very real dangers attached to participation (his interview with a thief who uses the site to find his victims is particularly noteworthy), the appalling ignorance of many members (in this movie, they're mostly female) who remain blissfully unaware of the consequences of their online behavior, and many of the perks of finding new friends, rediscovering old ones, and even romance via Facebook. Finally, armed with the knowledge and insights that the filmmaker has collected, the Pinvidics have an answer for their son.

Is it any good?

Funny moments, eye-opening cluelessness, and a few insights into the far-reaching tentacles of Facebook keep this very personal movie lively and watchable. However, there's nothing new here, no "aha" moments, and no keenly observed or fresh notions. And though Pinvidic and company attempt objectivity, they can't resist a bit of eye-rolling at the participants who trust them, as well as the site that has come to fill their lives. Some of the interviewees, in fact, double-down on their need to be noticed (by Facebook or a video camera) by looking as oblivious on film as they do online. The "third act" of the piece is devoted to trying to understand the underlying emotional makeup of Facebook's ardent users. In this instance, Pinvidic calls upon psychologist Dr. Drew Pinsky, another reality TV star, who comes up with a simplistic hypothesis that is as generalized and naive as the site's most devoted fans.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the ways reckless, or even simply thoughtless, use of Facebook can negatively affect a person's life. Make a list of ways you might later be affected by your Facebook behavior as a teen (for example, job opportunities, school applications).

  • How critical is it for parents to be knowledgeable about social media? Does your family have input into your participation? 

  • Explain the statement that use of social media leaves "digital bread crumbs" behind.

  • What are the benefits of social media? Talk to your kids about how using it responsibly can have positive outcomes.

Movie details

For kids who love social networking

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