So last week I received an email about free sneak preview passes to see the movie Disconnect. Since free movies are always good and I’d had a lot going on and appreciated the opportunity to break away for a while, I accepted the passes and went to see it. I’m glad I did. I had just come down from the high of the Phoenix Film Festival and was at a place where I really appreciated a good movie. Disconnect didn’t let me down.
The movie was kind of in the vein of Crash. It took multiple stories that all interlocked somehow and presented them for you on the big screen. Each of these stories involved the Internet somehow, thus the premise of the movie. It explored story lines that included child pornography, identity fraud, and cyber bullying, among other smaller side stories included in there as well. These stories, while all linked somehow, showed the negative aspects of being so “connected”. But I think there was a deeper vein running through there that they all had in common.
Disconnect seemed like it was set up to give you something to think about, something to remind you of the hazards of being so connected and online all the time. And sure, that’s true. It can easily become an addiction, and there are definite hazards that are not to be ignored. But I think the real problem here was how easy it is to not be yourself online. How easy it is to lie.
No matter what you do online, whether it be social networking, online gambling, joining a pornography site, or what have you, that’s the thing about it… it’s just that, online. It doesn’t ever have to be in person. And when there are relationships (be it business or personal) that exist online, those relationships may or may not ever become in-person relationships. So it becomes very easy to be, well, a completely different person. Whoever you’re talking to online doesn’t know you (well, they may, but that doesn’t mean that they know that it’s you, unless you tell them), so why not? I mean, even if you try to be honest about your identity or personality online, you are really only presenting the part of yourself that you see. So, in essence, pretty much any online relationship is misrepresented in some way. You may tell the truth about yourself completely, but until that person you are communicating with online gets the chance to meet you – they are only seeing you as you see yourself. So they’re still not getting the full picture. And they can’t until they get the opportunity to meet you in person. So why not lie? If they never meet you in person, they’ll never know. Even if you try not to… it can be very easy to lead people astray about who you are or what your motive is.
Disconnect was interesting to watch. It seems a bit farfetched in a way, extreme examples of what can happen when you misrepresent yourself online. And that’s really what happened to the people in the movie, what it’s all about. They misrepresented themselves, or someone did, and there was a very negative, usually to the extreme, outcome. But extreme or not, it was a good lesson. Stuff like this may or may not happen to you, but regardless – it can. So keep in mind how easy it is to lie. To misrepresent. And every once in a while, disconnect. Because really, the only truly real relationships are those that still exist when you do.