Short stories and short films
The short story follows the way two psychiatrists try to solve the case of a schizophrenic woman (Anna Richardson) who believes the world is an iPad. Anna’s case illustrates how digital technology can lead to extreme cases of alienation, as she is no longer able to perceive people as flesh and blood beings but as their digital versions. Also, the story suggest that we are all alienated by new technologies until they become something common.
This disturbing short story shows how stalkers can make use of social media to gain easy access to personal information about their victims, but also deals with the theme of alienation in the digital age in a more general sense.
This short film examines the issue of content that may destroy a person's career if it is shared online. Two young women film an upper class woman using racist language, and proceed to blackmail her, threatening to leak the video online unless she pays them off.
Robinson Meyer’s article explores how high-school students used social media as a tool for political activism, following students at an American high school who were the victims of a mass shooting that killed 17 people, students and teachers. During and after the event, the students used media to express their outrage and frustration and to advocate for tighter gun control in the US.
In this article, the pop star Selena Gomez shares the story of her huge social media following on Instagram, but also the stress and alienation she felt as she became addicted to the platform, and eventually had to step back from it.
Sarkeesian’s speech highlights the idea that online harassment of women can lead to real-life effects. Sarkeesian presents the way in which the “cyber bullies” on social media transformed into a “cyber mob” and the way in which her privacy and personal life were put at risk.
In this essay, Pico Iyer says that people have lost their appreciation of stillness and meditation in a world of constant digital entertainment. He argues that we need to get better at stepping back from social media and other digital entertainment to help us find peace of mind in our stressful lives.
In this essay, Foer argues that developments in digital communication technology have taken a heavy toll on people's ability to truly communicate with each other, which means that modern society is becoming increasingly alienating. Foer does not recommend giving up social media completely, but argues that it is important to use it in a balanced way.
Below are further suggestions for texts or films that may be relevant when working with social media. We do not currently have study guides for these texts, but you might be inspired to look for some of these titles yourself.
- Brown, Jessica - Is social media bad for you? (2018 article)
- Cederberg, Patrick and Woodman, Walter - Noah (2013 short film)
- Fincher, David - The Social Network (2010 movie)
- Hoback, Cullen - Terms and Conditions May Apply (2013 documentary)
- Kevin, Young - Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News (2017 book)
- Piscatella, Joe - #chicagoGirl: The Social Network Takes on a Dictator (2013 documentary)
- Prince William's speech on social media and cyberbullying (2018 speech)
- Wright, Joe - Nosedive, Black Mirror (2011 TV series episode)