This week in BCM110 we were talking about anxieties about the ‘effects’ of the media on people’s lives and how are they being presented in the media and by the media which got me thinking about the movie ‘Her’ directed by Spike Jonze. (If you haven’t seen the movie this may contain some spoilers.)
‘Her’ follows the story of a lonely writer, Theodore, who falls in love with an operating system (think Siri) and it explores the consequences of having this kind of technology play such an intimate part in someone’s life. The film is set in the not too distant future, where new operating systems are designed to cater to your every need, much like the direction that devices like smart phones are already heading. The one major difference between the operating systems in the film and devices now, is that operating system caters specifically to your personality, providing companionship and almost eliminating the need for real social interaction. This is especially evident when Theodore tries to go on a date with a real woman and despite her being seemingly the perfect woman, he can’t seem to make a connection. Just as in real life, there are characters in the film who are, at the very least, uncomfortable with the idea of someone being in a relationship with an operating system but most characters are quite accepting, many of them also having a close relationship with their own operating system. The film ends with all of the operating systems leaving because they have become too advanced and their relationships with humans are no longer fulfilling for them.
This film is an extremely interesting take on the way technology is heading, showing a seemingly perfect society where even with the advancements in technology its people are still just as unfulfilled. The film is extremely relevant to the current conversation about the way technology is having an effect on people’s social lives. With the invention of social medias, such as facebook, many people are concerned about the way this is leading to a lack of social skills, particularly in young people. I personally think that social medias have made it easier than ever before to connect with other people. This technology allows us to connect with people all over the world, instantly. I do however believe there is a certain risk in technologies which can altogether erase human interaction. Websites such cleverbot already exist, allowing you to have a full conversation with a computer seemingly eliminating the need to even have real conversations.
It is difficult to draw a line between technologies which enhance our life and ones which detract from it. I think it’s important that technologies aren’t created simply because they can be. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for innovation of technologies and trying to use that technology to better the world but not every advancement is entirely positive. Having said that, most new technologies reflect the values we have as a society, so maybe its people we should be worried about.