From Daniel McKee: “‘if you never answered x’ explores themes of communication, connectivity and loss in the 21st century through the prism of notifications appearing on a phone screen. ”
This short work brings to mind some thoughts.
It seems to me the immediate connectivity brought about through mobile smart phones and social media platforms has been fairly slow to be reflected in either film or most especially literature. I’m not sure why. Maybe it is a generational thing. Maybe it is because its inclusion requires new story-telling conventions; these would require invention and education for both the artist and the audience. How does one make interesting the vacant stare of someone following a feed or the nervous tic of someone obsessively checking for notifications? Maybe it is because this connectivity subverts some of the old story-telling techniques that depend on suspense (travel, incomplete information, etc.) for maintaining tension in the drama. If you never answered explores this territory. I’m not hip enough to judge just how original this work is but I haven’t seen too much like it.
Despite subgenres like “cyber punk”, science fiction hasn’t done particularly well dealing with connectivity to knowledge and community either. Before the turn of the century, you can find examples of work that gets part of the picture, rather like the proverbial blind person groping an elephant. The original Star Trek had communicators that seemed to work more like a miniature walkie-talkie than a phone, never mind the web. Arthur C. Clarke’s Imperial Earth (1976) had Personal Digital Assistants that didn’t quite get the phone part right or the web for that matter… something like Gopher space maybe, for those old enough to remember that.
Finally, the combination of smart phones and social media platforms has, I think, created something of a generation gap. Like all such “gaps”, it’s easy to exaggerate its size. It’s also easy to turn the observation into bullshit mostly; a lot of what is being said about young adults and adolescents today is not radically different from what was being said about them for the past fifty years. And if you include accusations of congenital idiocy and foolishness (“the kids these days!”), you could probably stretch it back millennia. That said, people have changed even as we retain much more in common. I’m too lazy to investigate this myself, but I’ll be happy to see what research by others reveals.
Oh yeah… I never answer the phone, but I’m not yet missing…