Humans are inherently social beings with an ingrained need to stay connected and in touch with each other. The level of closeness experienced between two or more people depends on the time spent together. The advent of technologies like social networking sites has created a new model of relationship and communication. Thus, while technology facilitates interconnectivity, its dissociative function disintegrates into a personalized, emotion-oriented touch.
Technology causes people to lack empathy with each other because of the absence of close physical interactions. In the film, “Men, Women, & Children (2016)” by Reitman, a host of conflicts arise. In particular, the mode of conversation within the film is one that illustrates the lack of interconnectivity. In particular, people in their diverse relationships appear ill-attuned to each other’s emotional and psychological needs. Consider, for instance, the scene where Tim tries to commit suicide after a harsh disagreement with the father. Tim tries to reach out to the person he feels stay connected with, only to receive a rude response. Worse still, the names saved on the phones are not the true ones. During that conversation, one can see Tim’s name as Timm 1026 while on his phone he saved his love as freyjabir, which is not her real name. In the conversation, Tim asserts, “Just feeling lonely and empty” (Reitman n.p.). Instead of being remorseful, he receives a text, “Don’t you have someone else you can bother.” Moreover, on further inquisition, Tim is told, “I’m just not interested. Never was. If you text me again, I’ll block you” (Reitman n.p.). Such a conversation shows utter lack of intimacy and synchrony with personal feelings.
Similarly, there is an overreliance on technology in the film “Captain Fantastic” by Lonergan. Ben calls Justin and Jackson and asks them about the bill of rights. Jackson, 13 years old states “It’s something cause, I guess” while Justin, currently in high school, responds, “It’s a government thing … I think… Rights that people have in America and stuff …” (Lonergan n.p.). However, Zaja, just turned eight years, who is brought up in the bush, not only quotes the bill of rights word-for-word but also goes ahead to interpret within an applicable context when she talks about China.
Furthermore, technology causes a lot of distraction and cocooning, evidenced by the manner in which Justin and Jackson keep desiring to go in their rooms and play by themselves. Then again, Ben’s children cherish working together as a team and will tackle huddles together. According to Thoreau, people need to think as individuals and become self-reliant and responsible (14). Ben has taught his children to think as individuals and solve real-life problems on their own as part of survival tactics. Part of self-reliance involves one’s ability to read, interpret, and apply the relevant literature (Thoreau 16). During the incident when the policeman stops Ben and seeks to inquire why they are not at school, their individual and collective responses amazes even the officer and he lets the bus progress. Each conversation that Ben’s family hold is in context and their level of connectedness is intense. In contrast, Ben’s in-laws cocoon themselves and they each move to different rooms and live separate lives. Although these relatives have significant money and technologies ranging from television sets among other items, they do not seem to share a common and contextual conversation. During meal times, conversations keep on shifting from one topic to the next.
Ultimately, technology leads to disunity among people. The level of interaction, in the presence of technology, is cosmetic and highly dysfunctional. Evidence from both films shows the power inherent in strong personal bonds and the lack of it thereof.
- Lonergan, Kenneth, director. Captain Fantastic. Electric City Entertainment and ShivHans Pictures, 2016.
- Reitman, Jason, director. Men, Women & Children. Paramount Pictures, and Right of Way Films, 2014.
- Thoreau, Henry David. Walden and “Civil Disobedience” – A Teacher’s Guide to the Signet Classics Edition. Penguin Group, 2013.