The Internet has been a major part of society since the early ‘90s, but while its effects on society across the globe are obvious, the effects on the psychology of younger generations are hardly clear. Beeban Kidron’s documentary, InRealLife, sets out to explore the social and psychological impact of the Internet on the youth of today and what to expect heading into the future.
It’s a handsomely made and crafted film to be sure, but right from the start it plays falsely. The music and imagery that opens the film screams “eerie portent,” and the majority of the film focuses on the Internet’s impact as negative, extending to almost all of its talking heads. A healthy skepticism and realistic analysis are important with such a serious subject, but the film overplays its hand, unfortunately feeling quite unfair.
The film features very candid interviews with some young people about pornography, gaming addiction and online dating, and while they’re honest in tone, only the online dating interview offers glimmers of hope. The other two feel purposely selected to give online socialization as bad an image as possible.
The last problem is one of what the intended audience of this is. Time that could’ve been spent giving a more nuanced view of the Internet’s social and psychological effects is instead wasted on trying to explain the frailty of the physical network systems that comprise the Internet. It’s not clear why this is all here, but it means the film comes across as purely intended to strike fear into the hearts of adults and parents, rather than informing them. (Corey Atad)