THE YOUNGER generation has a very complicated relationship with social media — on one hand it allows people to connect with their friends and make new friends, but on the other, social media also lends itself to being an outlet to a “curated” life meant to show that some people are living better (or differently) than they actually are.

And that is the crux of the new Netflix film Alter Me, directed by RC Delos Reyes. It tells the story of an angry human resources manager (Jasmine Curtis-Smith) who hires a male escort (Enchong Dee) to teach her how to connect with other people through Alter, a social media platform.

“More than anything else, what we want people to take from the movie is you learning to love yourself before you open up to the world. How can you be open to something without being open to yourself?” Mr. Delos Reyes said in a media roundtable on Nov. 10 held via Zoom.

(Warning: Mild spoilers ahead.)

The premise is deceptively simple, but what is really interesting is how the film portrays sex positivity as Alter is riff on Twitter’s alterverse, a community of Filipinos who post nudes and hookup and share sex stories. In a 2019 story by Vice, the alterverse is described as a place where “one may freely, anonymously share and act out parts of themselves that they otherwise wouldn’t feel comfortable doing so in real life.”

Alter Me, is a sexy, romantic comedy and that becomes very apparent in the first 10 or so minutes of the film as the audience sees Uno (Enchong Dee) getting it on with different women while Aimee (Jasmine Curtis-Smith) is shown as an angry HR manager whom no one likes.

They meet, fall in love, and, of course, both of them have issues: Uno wants someone to love him and will settle for anyone who will, while Aimee had her heart broken and is wary over falling in love.

The film, in Mr. Delos Reyes’ words, highlights the disconnect between people’s real selves online and offline, which is ironic since social media was meant to connect people.

“It’s easier to create connections online,” he said before adding it also made it easier for people to create “curated versions” of themselves through social media, and thus when people connect online and meet offline, the person you knew online may not be who they really are offline.

Alter Me is now streaming on Netflix. — Zarlene B. Chua