Lifetime Explores the Dark Side of Social Media with "He's Not Worth Dying For"

By Behind the Scenes in Hollywood Archives
Cover image for  article: Lifetime Explores the Dark Side of Social Media with "He's Not Worth Dying For"

The darker side of living a perceived perfect life on social media is put under the microscope this weekend in the premiere of the Lifetime movie He's Not Worth Dying For. Inspired by true events, the film follows 19-year-old Isla (Rachel Boyd, pictured above), a successful beauty and fashion influencer with dreams of taking her notoriety to the next level, and Grace (Hilda Martin), an excellent student with aspirations of becoming a vet. Enter Jake (Lachlan Quarmby), who, unbeknownst to the girls, is dating both of them at the same time. With the majority of their lives lived online, it's not long before they discover what Jake is up to. After sides are taken by their followers, an all-out social media war erupts online, one that soon spills into real life with deadly consequences.

"I didn't know much about the story," Martin explained recently while promoting the film. "But I do have a liking for crime documentaries, so as soon as I was told it was based on / inspired by a true story, I Googled it right away."

"When I first got the audition script, I actually somehow missed the words 'based on a true story'," added Boyd. "I had no idea until the callback that I was auditioning for something that was based on a true story. I really connected to it, because it's an experience a lot of young people on social media, and especially young women, can relate to. How we are taught to compete for a man's exclusive love, and how that can manifest in different ways in the age of social media. And how that has real effects on our self-worth, the way we behave as people and can change our character."

For the film's stars, social media has played a part in their real lives but seeing how negatively it can be used helped open their eyes to the pitfalls. "It's really what a person chooses to highlight and how they want to be perceived in the world," Boyd reflected. "What you see on social media, we often treat like that is that person, and that's the full representation of them when it's not. What we wanted to tackle in the movie is that people blur those lines and treat people like they aren't human beings, when really we're kind of just creating a highlight reel."

"I specifically had a hard time with kind of splitting being the same person [online] and having a [real life]," said Martin (pictured below). "Being real on social media for the longest time, I don't see that being a possibility now because [on] social media you're not you. You're never going to be. If you want lots of followers, you have to be someone society wants on social media. I could see the same for my character Isla, who is trying to be this colorful, bright person, but in her real life it's the total opposite."

Quarmby (pictured above) agreed. "I think a lot of people have this sort of duality in personality versus real life on social media," he said. "It's not for me to say how you should manage it, but I think it's best to do everything in moderation. If you are going to put something up that is a version of you, maybe not the exact version of you, or maybe what you are aspiring to be, it's about managing which is which and being honest with yourself. As long as you know what you're all about, I think it's manageable."

Making the film did alter its stars' perception of how they engage online. "This movie holds up a mirror to the reality that we've been living," Boyd asserted. "How we reduce people, their self-worth and their value to their viral abilities, and how we turn real human suffering into [an] entertainment genre. It's really horrible, and something that everybody on social media is immersed in, in one way or another. This movie highlights the realities of that and the real-world repercussions on people's lives and feelings."

"Doing the film validated the change I'd made before the movie of not giving in to being that perfect person on social media and kind of giving in to the dark side of [it]," Martin revealed. "After the movie, obviously, people are going to look at our social media, and that image of me being perfect is not the message I wanted people to takeaway. I did make a change, and I was proud of that. Just loving myself and posting whatever I love; be it a picture of a flower or just me -- unedited."

"Doing the movie made me more aware of the purpose and point behind posts," added Quarmby. "Like, 'Why am I posting this?' I've stopped myself a couple times and asked myself, 'Is this for me, or is this for other people and to get a reaction?' I'm trying to post more positive stuff, as I'd rather post something cheesy than something from the wrong place in my heart. I'm [now] more conscious of that."

"The message I'd like people to take away from the movie, is no manifestation of validation, be it from a boy, or followers, or likes and comments on Instagram, is ever worth losing yourself for," Boyd added in closing. "I want people to know they are one hundred percent significant and enough, just being themselves. Outward validation will come and go, but inner self-worth is what you should focus your energies on."

He's Not Worth Dying For will be telecast Saturday, June 25 at 8 p.m. on Lifetime.

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