InRealLifeThursday 19 Sep 2013
Judging by the fact that you're reading this review online, it's safe to say that you are somebody who enjoys the internet and have most likely either updated your Facebook status, uploaded a photo Instagram, sent an email or Googled something at some point today. Well, if you have done even one of these things then prepare to feel just a little bit unnerved by director Beeban Kidron's most recent documentary.
InRealLife seeks to highlight some of the most pressing internet- related issues facing the youth of today including frank discussions about pornography, bullying, privacy, gaming addictions, the cult of the internet celebrity and online relationships. Although Kidron's central question is "have we outsourced our kids to the internet?" it would be easy to change this to "have we outsourced our lives to the internet?" as these issues are equally as pertinent for adults as they are for teenagers.
To try and paint a clear picture of the current online landscape, Kidron uses real-life teenage case studies, scattered with expert comment from some seriously impressive internet heavyweights including Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, academic Clay Shirky and the infamous founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange.
Kidron also enjoys hitting the audience with hard facts that are enough to make you completely re-think the amount of time you dedicate to your online pursuits – seriously, think of all the things you could achieve if you didn't check your phone on average 150-200 times per day?
Although Kidron navigates her way through these important statistics and issues in a largely fair-minded and interesting way, InRealLife could have been a far better documentary had its director decided to simply cover one or two topics in more depth, instead of giving us a cursory look into several different issues.
There truly is just so much interesting material to be harvested from every topic in this film that the few minutes given to each one just isn't enough. For example, it would have been fascinating to learn more about the YouTube phenomenon known as Tobuscus who caused scenes reminiscent of Beatlemania when he organised to meet fans in a London park.
Similarly, the seven minutes spent speaking to a young girl who would rather let herself be attacked than have her phone taken is nowhere near enough time for the audience to fully grasp why this person values her BlackBerry more than her own personal safety.
Kidron is also slightly guilty of pandering to the 'internet is the source of all evil' doctrine that so many worried mothers and fathers already adhere to and this documentary will undoubtedly shock a few more into tightening those parental control settings.
But despite having strokes that are too broad and the tone of an overly concerned parent, InRealLife is still a thoroughly thought- provoking documentary that just might make you re-think the way you live your online life.