Loneliness​ and Social Media in Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade

Screen Queens

Eighth Grade, the directorial debut of YouTube alumnus and comedian Bo Burnham, was finally released in the UK in April. The film follows Kayla (Elsie Fisher) as she attempts to navigate her final week of middle school before she starts high school after the summer break.

Kayla is lonely. She’s not like the usual “unpopular” protagonist in American teen movies – she’s not smart-mouthed or top of the class. Her classmates don’t actively bully or tease her. She doesn’t clap back with perfectly crafted witticisms. Kayla cares about what other people think of her. She cares that she doesn’t have friends. She’s alone, she’s largely unnoticed, and she’s lonely. Like most teenagers, she uses social media with a kind of desperation in an attempt to quell this feeling. She is a part of things, but distinctly removed. As Kayla scrolls and scrolls in her darkened room, her face is illuminated by the blue light of her phone and laptop, but she remains unseen.

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