Analysis of a Cartoon
The cartoon, illustrated by Markus Magnusson, was originally published on April 28th, 2018, as an animated video on his Instagram account (@motionmarkus). It depicts a man posing for a new post on his Instagram profile. The cartoon focuses on a man standing in front of a huge phone, which is placed on the right. The man wears a suit and has a forced smile. He wears nothing except a sock on his right foot below his abdomen, while the other sock is hanging on a big plant on the left of the cartoon.
The plant is potted in a bucket without soil, and there is a glass bottle lying in the middle of the floor at the front. There is also a smoking cigarette in an ashtray between the man and the phone, and an opened computer, which seems to play a movie, on the lower right corner. On the phone's screen, there is an Instagram post, and the caption under the post tells us that it has received 12 likes. The title of the post is #monaco, and due to the bold letters, we can see the username of the account publishing the picture, which is Wanker.
The cartoonist wants to convey that it is easy to pretend things on social media that aren't even true. For instance, the man is trying to convince his followers that he is located in Monaco, probably on vacation, lying under a palm tree with his drink. His followers wouldn't recognize that he is actually at home, in an extremely disorganized room, standing half-naked in front of an enormous phone. All they see about that man's life is a rectangle cut.
The size of the phone is obviously unrealistic, probably as much as socks hanging on plants. The cartoonist used exaggeration as a stylistic device here. The huge phone symbolizes the major importance it has in this guy's life and also stands for a mirror. But that mirror just reflects the part that people can see online. We, as readers of the cartoon, can see the entire mirror, and we can perceive that his place apparently isn't as glamorous and luxurious as he feigns. It appears very messy.
Additionally, his smile seems unnatural and forced. Perhaps his disarranged room, with cigarettes and probably alcoholic drinks, and his compulsive facial expression can be transferred to his lifestyle and also mental state. Maybe social media puts him under pressure to shine (the fake smile, enjoying vacation), and he is basically forced to update his community on his life. To receive more likes and maybe money, he decides to pretend he is happily on vacation in Monaco, while he could be having a chaotic lifestyle and serious and private, alcohol or mental health issues or financial problems, and can't care about his plants, health, and tidying his room. But how would they know the reality when they can only see a glimpse of someone's life? The actions and intentions behind are unknown.
I agree with the cartoonist. At first glance, the cartoon seems very ridiculous with the half-naked man, but I think its meaning is way deeper. I believe it's not too hard to receive many likes on social media once, but it is when you want to have permanent success. For continuous success, it's important to stand out all the time. There are many influencers that made the step to use social media as their only income. Some of them made already enough money to live a luxurious life, many others are still struggling. The ones struggling are the ones with the most pressure, and I can imagine some would really pretend to be on vacation, just to obtain attention again, to make headlines and more money for their existence.
It doesn't happen rarely that these influencers decide to take breaks from social platforms, often because of the pressure of having the most glamorous life and to win every comparison between them and others. A couple of people admit their mental health issues due to the pressure and take breaks with the risk of not being the most outstanding anymore. Others are strong enough to succeed, and some might appear strong on the outside, broken and disorganized on the inside, and maybe drink or smoke to cover their problems.