InRealLife takes on the ‘recent’ phenomenon of the Internet, the rise of young people using services with little regard for their privacy, and the potential societal change brought on by this new technology.
Filmmaker Beeban Kidron, who previously directed Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar, as well as documentaries for BBC4, noticed the rise in teenagers being constantly attached to their phones, and set out to find out what impact the internet is having on children.
Kidron’s journey takes her through some of the seedier world connected with the internet, including interviews with teenage boys who base their expectations for love on porn, a teenage girl who had sex with thieves to get her phone back, and the parents of a young man who killed himself due to online bullying. As well as this, Kidron explores the privacy angle of the Internet, and how much control we have over the information sent out online.
Some of the revelations in the film are worrying; others are less revelatory to those who have wondered about privacy and the ownership of data in the past. Still, the realisation that if a service is free, then the users must be the commodity being sold to advertisers is never a comfortable one, and this is what Kidron’s film sets out to expose.
InRealLife also contains interviews with sociological experts, who discuss what impact this new form of communication is having on us as a species, but while Kidron explores many of the angles of being constantly connected, and sharing personal information online, there is never any real explanation as to how this can be avoided.
The film is not all doom and gloom, however, as Kidron follows a young man meeting up with his Internet boyfriend for the first time. Their meeting is warm and sweet, and serves to remind audiences that the Internet can be used for good, as well as corporate evil.
InRealLife is an interesting look at the internet – a service that billions of people use every day – but it feels highly biased in favour of fear mongering, does not offer any solution to privacy concerns and does not contain much information that we did not already know. Still, my mum always warned me to be careful of my privacy online, and it seems – from Kidron’s perspective anyway – that she was right. It’s just a shame that InRealLife is not in any way balanced, and does not show the internet as a whole, just the misuse of a service that has changed the way we interact, shop and work.