Part 2: Unfriended: The Spatial aspect of social media and its users

When we discuss the idea of ‘thinking spatially about media audience courses’, this can refer to many different aspects of the media. Today, on Halloween night, I have decided to, as part of my 4 part digital project, to take a look at the 2015 cyber-horror film “Unfriended” and discuss how the spatial aspect of social media is represented within the film, as well as a general review of the film.

Image from: http://www.contactmusic.com/images/feature-images/unfriended-poster-636-380.jpg
Image from: http://www.contactmusic.com/images/feature-images/unfriended-poster-636-380.jpg

Out of all the films that have explored the anxieties and spatial aspects of social media, no film has done it better than Levan Gabriadze’s 2015 techno-horror film “Unfriended”.  Set entirely on the main character (Blair)’s computer screen, “Unfriended” delivers both as a straightforward and  entertaining horror film, but also as a commentary on the spatial aspect of social media. One interesting fact about the film is that the film, was shot all in one house, with each character occupying a separate room . Interestingly, this is completely relevant to the idea that the film attempts to convey (that idea being that although isolating us in reality, social media brings us closer virtually, regardless of where we are located.)

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This idea, that is explored in “Unfriended”, is really quite fascinating, but can also be seen as problematic. Living  in a world of technological change, it’s not a surprise that we are beginning to become consumed by our mobile phones, laptops and tablets. However, being a teenager myself, it is becoming slightly worrying  to see people, particularly teenagers, become increasingly glued to their screens, even in the company of friends and family. I, myself, am guilty of being one of these people. So, the question I intend on investigating is this: why do we feel the need to use social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, whilst in the company of others?  Runcan ( pg.127, 2015) states  that “the young generation [generation Z] belongs to a new type of social networks based on virtual communication”. An underlying problem, established in Runcan’s statement, is that of place. Because technology allows to access everything a lot faster, it therefore allows us to communicate faster. This increase in speed has therefore made us less patient and more demanding.

The invention of Skype, which is the social-media format used throughout “Unfriended”, is arguably much more significant than that of Facebook. Before I continue, I would like to point out that I am on Facebook almost every day and think it is a marvellous tool and use it much more than Skype.  On its website, Skype describes its purpose as “doing things together, whenever you’re apart”. In all honesty, this is the perfect summary of Skype. The major difference between Skype and Facebook is that Skype is used in a much-more positive manner. People are not constantly checking their Skype and when used, it is often to talk with someone who is too far to talk to face-to-face. Contrastingly,  Facebook is used constantly to remind others about how we are feeling, what’re doing, who we are doing something with and where we are at a certain moment. With this sort of use, it’s no wonder that we are becoming increasingly self-centred and narcissistic. Whilst debating whether virtual reality is a type of media space, Runcan (2015) argues that defining the concept of virtual reality is essential in order to assess whether it is a type of media space. However, Runcan (pg.129, 2015) goes on to state that “the difficulty comes from the fact that this space does not exist physically”. The fact that virtual reality is not a physical space remains a significant obstacle in questioning whether it can be considered as more than just a network.

My final point, in this admittedly over-long post, is regarding Runcan’s (2015) discussion  of “Facebookmania” as a concept. Runcan (pg.129, 2015) relates the term to “a state of uncontrollable nervousness manifested through agitation and, sometimes, aggressiveness because the need needs to be satisfied without any delay”. Being a 19 year-old, you won’t be surprised to hear that I, along with many others, suffer from Facebookmania. So, in response to the question I asked myself earlier, I believe that Facebookmania is a form of addiction which is often neglected and is prominent in the lives of many people, particularly teenagers, today. The principal issue that we face, with this addiction, is that it draws us from a real, if geographically-limited place to a unregulated and sometimes dangerous virtual place. And if the horror film “Unfriended” warns us about anything, it’s this: addiction to technology can be dangerous…

References:

Runcan, R 2015, ‘Facebookmania – The Psychical Addiction to Facebook and Its Incidence on the Z Generation’, Social Work Review / Revista de Asistenta Sociala, vol. 14, no. 3, pp. 127-136.

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