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Have You Been to the Movies - Or Have You Been UNFRIENDED?

Updated on October 6, 2016
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Ms. Inglish has been a professional writer and critic of films, books, music and theater for over 25 years.

Who is watching you on social media?
Who is watching you on social media? | Source

Unfriended is Better than Expected

When I heard about the 2015 film UNFRIENDED, I was intrigued.

I wondered, though, about its format of six or seven chat windows on a laptop screen. I imagined that I would not be able to follow the spoken and texted dialogue, but happily, I was incorrect!

This film is interesting and fits in with today's rampant use of communication technologies by some groups of teenagers and young adults. It outlines some of the dangers involved in the use of the Internet and social media, particularly certain aspects of bullying and shaming. Thus, the film's timeliness is evident. Rated R, it does present the more extreme results to be had by the actions of cyberbullies and unsupervised teenagers. It would probably frighten pre-teens.

For older viewers who enjoy horror films, the chat windows that show dimly lit rooms and an unidentified blank window of a troll are as effective as dark basements full of demons and dark cobwebs. We hear some of the same sound effects off screen as well, followed by apps that freeze and other delays. This film could make your blood pressure rise.

At a cost of only $1,000,000 to produce... “Unfriended” made $16,000,000 across 2,739 theaters on its first Friday and Saturday. - Variety 4/19/2015

Why Was I Unfriended and Lost a Follower !?

An amusing commercial for some product I cannot remember features three senior ladies in a living room, where one lady has posted all her Polaroid snapshots to her living room wall (Wall, as in Facebook jargon). The lady has no computer.

As the first lady tells about her photos, a second lady smiles and nods. The third lady, who knows what social media actually is and does, is exasperated. She tries to explain to the other two, neither of whom understands. The first lady finally says, " I unfriend you." The tech-savvy lady is incredulous.

I laugh every time I see this commercial, but the horror film UNFRIENDED (Universal Pictures, 2015), is not so funny. Many people fret when they lose an online "follow" or "friend", but after seeing this film, they may be glad to get rid of some others.

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Social Media Involvement

Many people who use social media become upset when a "friend" or a follower or a fan unfollows them. The unfriending becomes an act of evil aggression in the minds of some of the unfriended.

A portion of the remainder wonder, "What did I do wrong?" Nothing, probably.

It means little when technology users follow others and then lose their accounts for infractions of TOS, making their accounts and "follows" disappear. Some other users are playing games of friending and unfriending for entertainment. Others unfriend people, because they disagree with their political or religious beliefs, or because they want to upset someone - that is fun for them. In all, I think that a healthy psychological adjustment does not include dwelling on being unfriended.

Technology has given rise to something akin to Internet/Technology Addiction and a new type of paranoia, I think - Fear of Unfriending, we might name it as a popular culture term (and I hope I never see it in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the APA!).

The teens portrayed in UNFRIENDED are not the crowd I would have joined in high school, but they make good examples of people who misuse social media without realizing that their actions will result in consequences for themselves as well as for their targets.


Fear Factors

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The motto for a technology generation.
The motto for a technology generation. | Source

Six Friends and Their Computers

The film UNFRIENDED centers on computer records left behind by six high school students under age 18 who chatted in a multi-user application online every night beginning at 9:00 PM. Their parents were never home at this hour.

Murder is a character all its own in this film.
Murder is a character all its own in this film. | Source

Tech Gadgets Everywhere

In "found footage", three teen girls and three teen boys are equipped with desktop and laptop computers, iPads, iPods, iPhones - I think I saw a 3D Printer - and other technology.

One young man is a stereotypical "tech geek" and keeps all the corners of his room piled with technology gadgets and servers he is building. He can mix alcoholic drinks in a blender with one hand, while he texts and posts to Facebook with the other hand.

The other five teens talk on Skype, drink, post to Facebook, send instant messages, use their cell phones, argue, name-call, download joke snapshots, and try to figure out how to block an online troll.

It is the one-year anniversary date of the handgun suicide of a classmate after someone posted a shaming video of her Facebook. Two videos feature two 16-year-old girls in compromising, unconscious positions after heavy alcohol intake. All the students at the high school thought it was funny, until one of the girls shot herself.

After the death, some students said and posted that the girl - and other teen girls in the school - deserved to die, because they are bullies and "mean girls." Even so, retaliation by cyberbullying is also a crime.

Dark bedrooms can be more frightening than dark basements.
Dark bedrooms can be more frightening than dark basements. | Source

Dark Rooms are Scarier than Basements

One night the six friends online are simply stuck to their technology, unable to leave their houses or even their bedrooms, when a hacker troll cuts into all their accounts and says he or she is the dead girl.

The deceased's Facebook account is active and someone is posting from it, looking for the people who posted the shaming video. The unknown message sender demands to know.

Stuck in their dark rooms, and some drinking a lot of alcohol, the teens are horrified and behave erratically. One waves a handgun around. They scream, pound things, cry -- Each one of them has something to hide.

Text conversations and videos of couples cheating on each other surface. The hacker-troll threatens murder. The teens online cannot get rid of him. They call police several times, but the officers never arrive. Their parents never come home. In fact, we hear that two of the dads are out drinking.

Online apps can freeze.
Online apps can freeze. | Source

Technology is Frustrating

Communication technologies are frustrating, even when working correctly. Batteries die, signals are lost. Emails do not go through. Keyboards and screens freeze. Apps malfunction. The effects of these glitches compound when someone online is bothering you.

In UNFRIENDED, the apparent ghost of a dead girl is not going to simply unfriend people - she is going to punish all of those who posted shaming videos and evil comments about her. While she threatens teenagers through texting, their apps go down repeatedly; pictures pixelate, and the power goes out. The rotating circle that means "working" won't stop. Malignant pictures download too slowly. Horrible secrets come out.

Sitting in the dark and terrified, the threatened teenagers cannot get out their chairs. The "ghost" gains control of all six of their computers and life becomes hell.

This film is rated R for language, gore, drugs/alcohol, and some sexuality; but middle schoolers could benefit from the lessons herein.

This film also contains a good measure of blood and gore by surpising means, for those of you who like that feature. By the last scene, none of the teens are in any kind of shape to use technology.


© 2015 Patty Inglish MS


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