What does your average university student spend the majority of their time doing in 2015? Studying? No. Partying? Wrong. Surfing the internet? Correct.
Connecting with friends and family across the world, limitless information at your fingertips, and online shopping are realities of modern day life, thanks to the web.
However that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the cyber world.
We all know there’s a dark side to the internet – drug deals, weapon trades, and all kinds of twisted erotica are all just a click away online. But perhaps the greatest internet horror affecting young people today is cyber bullying.
“Unfriended” is a horror film which follows the story of six friends Skyping on the anniversary of the death of their friend, Laura Barns, who committed suicide after being cyber bullied. What starts off as an innocent Skype call descends into a disturbing exploration of the friends and the deep secrets they keep from each other regarding their friend’s suicide. All of this is instigated by a mystery caller who goes by the name of billie227. One by one they are turned against each other as increasingly ugly truths about them are revealed. Scarily enough, all the evidence to expose these secrets is found online. These ingredients come together to form a compelling yet disturbing horror film, whose subject matter hits close to home in a world dominated by computers.
The whole film is shot as a screen capture of the protagonist’s laptop, allowing the viewer to immerse themselves in the action as if they were sitting at their own computer. The filmmakers make clever use of everyday computer sounds – a Skype ringtone, an error notification, or even just eery typing – to conjure up a sense of suspense and frighten the audience, with plenty of jump scares for veteran horror fans. Made on a budget of just 1 million, the simplicity of this film is what makes it so terrifying – slowly but surely the face of a friend shown through a dark, glitchy webcam shot becomes menacing. Horrific sequences coupled with tech-savvy ingenuity make this film a must-see.
Laura Barns committed suicide in response to a video of her that was posted online without her consent. In the video she is lying on the ground, drunk, after having defecated all over herself. Far from a pretty sight, this kind of cyber bullying is powerful enough to drive a person to kill themself. A video as humiliating as the one depicted in the film can be uploaded with a single click.
Is the very thing we use all day, everyday as harmless as it seems? Are we too trusting of the internet? Are the guys in charge too trusting of the public to allow them unrestricted internet access?
David Cameron has spoken of internet censorship – particularily in refrence to the regulation of porn viewing. While in an ideal world underage members of society would be blocked from watching any kind of explicit material online, where do we draw the line? With user-generated content, free-lance bloggers, and forums dedicated to niche communities, today’s internet is a network by the people for the people. However for every Youtuber chubby bunny challenge posted, there is a devastatingly humiliating clip that could drive a person off the edge. Would Cameron be taking away a human right by closing off sections of the web to the public, or forbidding them from posting their content without stricter censoring? Would this introduction of censorship undermine the very essence of the internet, a space free of rules and regulations? By locking down the bullies and trolls, do you also hinder the great thinkers, artists, and innovators? Let us know what you think below.
Evan is a first year Liberal Arts student at Kings College London who, ironically enough, doesnt have Facebook or Twitter.