Saturday, November 30, 2013

KinoSmith Inc. Film Review - In Real Life

About a year ago I noticed that whenever I looked at a teenage they had an electronic device in their hand that was connected to the internet. The first questions were why don't you leave the device alone? Followed by How can you do your homework while constantly checking Facebook? Then the more important questions. What are your privacy settings?  Do you know the person your talking to on the other end? These are the first points raised by director Beeban Kidron's  in her film InRealLife. Under the voice over is the imagery of a sewer in East London with twisting cable rising out of the water then cutting to cable on the sides on the tunnel wall accompanied by scraping, crackling, crushing, bending and breaking sounds of the cable with an undertone pulse or heartbeat.

Ryan and Ben two teenage boys from East London are the first interviewee's. They are experts internet porn, can rhyme off just about every type of site plus providing intricate details of each sites fetish whith is quite remarkable considering they are both only 15 years old.  They claim that they are not addicted rather its part of their daily routine but they do admit that it's a hard habit to break. Ryan remarks that porn ruins his expectations of real girls. In his mind the right girl is like the one he saw on the internet. He will deal with the regular ones for a time but tell them to go away then its on to the next because they don't measure up to the blonde endowed ones he sees online.

Another interviewee 19 year old Tobin spends 5 hours a day playing Xbox and 2 on You Tube.  However he doesn't think that he is addicted to gaming. He reports that he can stop but sees no reason to.  It's not something that is bad for him. He can see how people want someone to stop doing something bad such as drugs but his gaming is not the same. Even though he flunked out of Oxford and he sees that there are other things he could do but because they are hard he avoids them.

Director Kirdon includes commentary from academics, authors and internet pioneers in the piece. Most of their messages are similar. There is a need to be wary of corporations that are collecting your information, data and personal history on servers that belong to them for commercial purposes. The people behind these sites have hired very smart people to get people to come to the sites and stay on them for as long as possible then if they leave get them back as soon as possible. A key trait is giving incredible response to something posted. It gets the user chasing that response again using the psychology of a dopamine trigger or the thrill of wanting something very fast. The efforts of these companies are very dangerous to teens, as they have not developed any other way to obtain
information, meet people or socialize. They are used to a world with constant noise, beeps, chirps and ringtones. Part of development is the need for solitude, which is not happening for the digital native generation.

Jimmy Wales the founder of Wikipedia added the private company that has your information wants to monazite it. Therefore they monitor what the user does, reads, writes, visits sending out links to get them to point, click and buy. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange added that the Internet is the greatest spy tool ever created.

The most disturbing parts of the piece are an interview with a 15 year old girl named Page that is so addicted to her blackberry that she post status updates upon waking, while she is getting ready to go out then when she arrives at her destination. The first time she lost her phone she considered doing sexual acts to get the money to get it back. The second time when it was stolen on a train she followed the boys that took it to a house and did sexual acts to have it returned. The other is the story of 15 year old Thomas told by his parents. Thomas was bullied over the internet being constantly challenged to fights at school or at home if he did not show up at school. He took his own life in his parents back garden.

Kirdon keeps the cable motif going throughout the production.  She includes tours of two major server hubs, a complex in West London and an office building in Manhattan. There are images of the cable winding its way along in the depths of the Atlantic ocean and a rudimentary explanation of what occurs when the cable meets your provider in the building. The intriguing part is that there are thousands of buildings around the world holding data only 12 matter. Two of which are in New York City including the most important one at 60 Hudson Street where all the big providers including KPN, Deutshe Telekom and Verizon are present. These key hubs have 400 to 500 networks interconnected. Some of the other major hubs are in Los Angeles, Miami, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, London and Tokyo.

The film does mention the main Tech players but as they all refused comment for the piece they are mainly mentioned by the Industry observers. Of the group Google and Facebook are singled out by the experts as not being trustworthy questioning their intentions for all of the personal material that they collect. The narrative also includes a comment on the  number of data requests placed by US Security Services to the leading Tech Corporations.

InRealLife is an important project that gives credible examples of the effect that the multitude of devices and the Internet are having on teenagers. The narrative is also correct to point out that kids emulate what they see from adults and many digital immigrants are more addicted to technology than teens.  The key point is to turn the devices off, spend some quality solitary time and connect with people face to face. In some cases Adults may need to step in to find their kids if they are perpetually lost in cyberspace. Director Kirdon has done a credible job presenting the material and it's a film I can recommend.

*** out of 4.

InRealLife | Beeban Kidron | U.K. | 2013 | 85 Minutes.

Tags: Teens, Internet, Data, Privacy, Marketing, Addiction, Bullying, Monazite.

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