“Everything you do, someone out there can see.” What a scary thought. And yet it’s become our reality since technology has been taking over every single aspect of our lives, leaving us with barely any privacy at all. In DCI-180 we’ve talked about privacy issues, trolling, censorship, the effects of social media, and a lot more of the ‘horrors and delights of technology,’ as one of the first articles we read referred to it. But the theme that somehow unites all of those together is simply the unpredictable direction in which technology is heading and the effects it has on humanity, its expression and development.
A piece of media that I think does pretty much the same thing is the movie Disconnect, released in 2012 and directed by Henry Alex Rubin. I believe I saw the movie for the first time several years ago (which would make sense since it’s only been so much since 2012), and I re-watched it again for the sake of this blog post. I must say it impacted me in an entirely different way, having thought and reflected more on the issues that it portrays. I really think having this movie as part of the course would be a great idea since it would complement and tie together many topics we’ve discussed such as trolling, online harassment and bullying, and even identity theft. Yes, the movie is not that recent, however it is still absolutely relevant to the world we live in.
Let me elaborate on what exactly the movie is about. To begin with, here’s an overview of it provided by The Movie Database:
“Disconnect interweaves multiple storylines about people searching for human connection in today’s wired world. Through poignant turns that are both harrowing and touching, the stories intersect with surprising twists that expose a shocking reality into our daily use of technology that mediates and defines our relationships and ultimately our lives.” (The Movie Database Contributors)
Quite ambiguous but at least it doesn’t spoil too much. Basically the movie shows technology as a tool that incites chaos and brings out the worst in people. Relationships are ruined, as actual, open communication is replaced by digital exchanges. I think the most important thing is that what we see are real-life scenarios and real-life consequences that certain actions in “today’s wired world” can have. The movie is not showing futuristic technologies fueled by innovation, but rather ones that have already been around for a while, up and running and able to completely change the course of our lives. It shows the use and abuse of Facebook and online chat-rooms and how those can be adopted to harass, exploit, and deprive people from their human dignity in various ways. Somehow everything in the movie seems to go horribly wrong and the situations are taken to extremes, however those scenarios are absolutely realistic, have happened before, are still happening and will continue to happen.
Something else I particularly like about the movie is the way human emotions are portrayed as influenced and ultimately shaped by social media. Reminds me of the topic of social media’s emotional contagion discussed in class. In the movie that is emphasized by the framing of the shots and the focus on face expressions and reactions. The focus on humanity, which eventually triumphs at the end of the movie. The characters realize what’s important and real in life – human connection, irreplaceable by anything else. Moral of the story: it’s way too easy to lose track of what’s important in a society where how you appear is more important than how you feel. It’s way too easy to hide behind a screen and especially hard to face the intense emotions that make us human. Technology can be a great temporary escape, but not permanent shelter.
Overall, I believe the movie would be a great addition to the course. I would probably have it go along with a discussion on trolling or cyber-bullying, however it could also complement other topics such as the overall emotional impacts of social media. An assignment that I would have as a follow-up would be to take one of the several different intertwining stories and examine it more in-depthly. Each story sort of portrays a different issue and how it can shape human interactions in the digital age. Something cool I think would be to write an alternate ending for the whole movie or for one scenario in particular to make life easier. That would require critical thinking and evaluating why did the plot take the twist it did and if something else was to happen, how? What went wrong and could it have been avoided? Of course, that wouldn’t make much sense if you haven’t seen the movie, which is just another incentive to do so!
Right below you can find the trailer of the movie in case you haven’t seen it, but of course…
The Movie Database Contributors. “Disconnect (2012).” The Movie Database, TMDb, www.themoviedb.org/movie/127517-disconnect.