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Every morning I wake up, turn off my alarm and check my Samsung notepad for the day’s reviews and schedule. With my morning coffee, I watch the first show I need to watch on my mobile and, if I’m lucky, write my review up on my home desktop. I then head to the office, where I sit in front of a computer answering customer queries, talk on the phone and fire emails around to the team, all whilst staring at the same digitalised screen. I then head home, watching more content on my phone on the train, before opening my laptop at home and writing up reviews and checking the logistics of the site. I carry on switching between laptop, TV, my mobile and Playstation all the way up to midnight before shutting everything off and starting the process again the next day.
Our lives have become so dependent on digitalisation and enslavement to technology that our brains have been completely hard-wired to behave in this manner. I’m both fascinated and horrified by my own behaviour regarding technology, even as I sit here writing out my daily schedule for this review. Sometimes it’s hard to remember a time when our lives weren’t completely dominated by this frame of thinking. Directed and written by Jordan Brown, Stare Into The Lights My Pretties is a fascinating, horrifying and thought provoking documentary film, exploring this uneasy new world around us and the dangers we face following our dependence on these machines.
The film itself begins with a short introduction, one that then sees us jump back in time to see the progress humankind has made through the ages with technology, beginning with the first super computer in 1966. From here, we then see a snapshot of humanity through the ages as our rapidly expanding digitalisation paves the way for big questions to come to the forefront around quite what the dangers are regarding our computer and social media usage.
As the film progresses, each different argument and idea is broken up by a splash screen that segregates each debate, with some cleverly placed moments of quiet contemplation following each big statement or piece of evidence. A lot of the issues stem from companies and big brands taking advantage of our own vulnerabilities, and manipulating what you do and don’t see on the internet. This is something that’s been covered in Netflix’s documentary earlier this year, The Great Hack, but there’s still enough thought provoking content here to prevent the film stepping on the toes as Netflix’s more prolific film on social media manipulation.
One of the highlights of the film comes from a fascinating psychological experiment that sees our filmmaker walking around and filming random people, paying particular attention to how awkward and self-conscious people get over it. It’s actually a very clever experiment that really proves a point about how oblivious we are to technological dangers, especially given people have devices that record and track every move we match. It’s such a fascinating experiment and works to signify just how apathetic we are to the mega-machine at work in the background of our lives.
With a mix of archival footage, face to face interviews and website articles, Stare Into The Lights does well to keep things aesthetically striking too, with clear and concise narration helping to keep things engaging while we flick through a series of different pictures and videos. There’s a great blend of informative, educational content, mixed with more think-tank questions designed to get the mind focused on these awkward and uncomfortable questions. The result is a 2 hour documentary that never feels like it outstays its welcome, and does well to continue pushing these questions on us until the very end.
Personally, the only gripes I had with the film were mostly personal preferences, including some of the background audio feeling too loud and some of the stock text changing font throughout the 2 hour run time. I do feel like a little more consistency with this would have been nice but to be honest, the content itself is engaging enough to look past this.
Stare Into the Lights My Pretties is simply an absorbing, thought provoking film that looks at the dangers facing our increasingly digitalised world. From big brands manipulating our search result algorithms through to the psychological implications of extended screen time, this documentary film is a must watch title and one that sheds light on those uncomfortable questions a lot of us would otherwise swipe past.