Is Internet Addiction Ruining Our Lives? New Documentary Makes a Strong Case

Gabriella Tutino

 

Digital and electronic technology has more or less become a staple of the average person’s life—we are constantly connected via smartphones, the Internet, and social media to the point where it is sometimes hard to disconnect.

But the Internet—with all its pros & cons and bells & whistles—is also affecting human development, particularly teenagers. That is the focus of the documentary InRealLife, by Beeban Kidron.

The film switches back and forth between London and Silicon Valley—the first location being where Kidron interviews teenagers, and the second where the team tries to get more information about how the Internet functions, where data is stored, and the sociological and psychological effects being interconnected has on society from interviews with Julian Assange, Sherry Turkle, Maggie Jackson and other experts.

Kidron asks the question “Have we outsourced our kids to the Internet?” and turns her focus on four situations where the teenagers are heavily dependent on the cyberspace they inhabit. There’s Ryan, who is addicted to online porn; Page, who has desperate need to be with her Blackberry; Tobin, whose gaming is getting in the way of his university studies; and Tom, who has an online boyfriend. Out of all the situations presented, only Tom’s story has a happy element to it, as he finally gets the chance to meet up with his boyfriend. The other candid interviews elicit a response of pity and incredulity, since the teenagers are aware of their situation, but are either helpless or unwilling to change it.

Throughout the documentary, many professionals are reiterating one particular point as to how online engagement affects users. Multiple times it was stated that positive interactions on the Web—a favorite, a like, a comment—released dopamine, which is linked to the brain’s reward and pleasure sensors. It is in human nature (even animal nature) to partake in activities that feel good, and so the Internet can become an addictive component of someone’s life.

 

 

InRealLife also successfully points out exactly how globally connected everyone is—by visiting the centers where all the networks are. There are tons of bundles of cables all wrapped up and plugged in, and it’s overwhelming. The documentary also delves into the history of the networks, and how data is used and who controls it. As Julian Assange is quoted, “The internet is the greatest spying machine,” and this information is eye-opening.

InRealLife is both a cautionary tale and a disturbing peek behind-the-curtain into the affected lives of Internet users. While it is a little bit hyped up on the negatives of the network, it’s also good to remember that the situations presented in the film can be extreme, and that there are those who can disconnect and use the Web in moderation. InRealLife is provocative and brings up good points about the perils of Internet addiction.

 

Author Bio:

Gabriella Tutino is a contributing writer at Highbrow Magazine.

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