The Four Megabytes of the Apocalypse
It’s been a stellar year for documentaries coming from all corners of the globe. With the constantly evolving, ever cheaper technology arriving on our doorsteps from non corporate tax paying service industries, the opportunity for everyone to get their story out is certainly much easier than typesetting your ode on a printing press of yesteryear.
There’s of course a slight negative outcome to that easy access however. There can be alot of tales to tell, and it may encourage folk to do stuff (out of necessity) to try and get their digital whisper heard above all the other white noise that is modern life. That will be my first, and to be honest, pretty much only criticism of Beeban Kidron’s very decent new documentary ‘InRealLife’. From the opening titles, with ominous music playing, we are skulking around a sewer whilst we are given the sense of potential peril that ‘may’ be the bitter aftertaste of the ‘freedom’ of the internet. While the camera meanders around the faeces strewn tunnels, I felt I was in the offices of the Daily Mail, and unfortunately there were a few moments during the screening where I felt the mood of the work was veering way too close to the scaremongers of said rag, where the unknown is definitely going to give you web cancer.
It was a bit hard for me to shake that feeling for some time, which is really unfortunate, as there is so much really great stuff in ‘InRealLife’, but that waft of digital mongering drifted by every so often.
Years ago folk would blindly panic about rock music being the downfall of society, and before that something else. It’s basically what humans do best, fear things. Or at least focus on something to fear, whilst the really dangerous thing is ignored. The apparent current desolation of mankind is internet porn. With such easy access to it on multiple mediums 24/7 it is apparently having a devastating effect on contemporary relationships, at least according to the couple of teenage boys talking about, well basically their wanking schedules. If anything, though you may not agree with the subject of what these young men were talking about, they ultimately came across as very intelligent (very funny), down to earth guys. They certainly gave off plenty of evidence to show they had more emotional intelligence than most of the adults I know. Most ‘grown ups’ are wholly incapable of discussing stuff to a meaningful level. Yet across the whole of this film there were young people, stumbling through their formative years in the way young people have for generations. They recognise there are issues with the views they have as a result in indulging in such false porniverse, but they know that, and want to address it.
There are some other not so great stories/percentages presented that again go the Daily Rant route, but as in constant media headlines demonising the poor in modern Britain, as in the papers, unique/irregular situations are presented as if a commonality. Everyone knows someone who has a horrible tale to tell, but not everyone has a horrible tale to tell themselves.
All the above may sound overtly negative, but I left the documentary actually full of hope because of the majority of the young people in this documentary. Man’s ultimate genius/stupidity is his ability to survive the majority of things that are put in front of him. There are tons of moments where young folk are building new relationships with people they may never have ever spoken to a generation ago. They may all seem really bizarre to ‘adults’ over 25, but they actually look like they are having fun. It’s certainly better than the teenagers I used to see sniffing plastic bags of glue when I was a kid.
There are plenty of very decent internet savvy folk who pop up in the doc and share information about their observations in dealing with this fledgling technology, so there’s no shortage of very interesting facts to digest. I’m more knowledgeable than alot of folks, and even I discovered great new nuggets. I don’t really want to mention all the people who are contributing to the work, as I do highly recommend you go see it. I was fortunate to see a talk by Canadian Cory Doctorow many years ago, which effectively encouraged me to look at technology, security, the world and people in a new and very inspiring way. The reason I mention this is, his views in ‘InRealLife’ are worth the price of admission alone.
InRealLife is out Fri 20th Sep, and released by dogwoof. For more info visit www.inreallifefilm.com/