Social media, the very tool that’s brought the world together, is likewise responsible for worldwide alienation, according to one Western student.
Gianni Bahadoorsingh, a first-year Arts and Humanities student, wrote and co-produced All Alone_Together, a short film that recently won the Best Relationship Drama award at the 2012 Ivey Film Festival, for its commentary on the pitfalls of social networking sites like Facebook.
“Everything’s become so impersonal. There’s this illusion of togetherness today, not just with social media. I feel that, even walking here (on campus). Everyone is walking together, but everybody’s in their own world,” Bahadoorsingh said.
“When you take off your headphones now, it’s the equivalent of tipping a hat. (Social media) has become a crutch. It’s showing how much people can’t handle face-to-face conversation.”
Bahadoorsingh’s movie aptly contains no dialogue, focusing on a male protagonist, a student who, without ever meeting her, falls in love and becomes obsessed with a girl he finds on ‘face2face’ – the movie’s equivalent of Facebook.
“(The movie) started as a project that I was doing for Scholar’s Electives. I have strong feelings and a strong philosophy on what social media has become today. I wanted to point out how we’ve got lost in this world,” explained Bahadoorsingh, whose production company is called Baha Vision Group.
“People often blur reality with social media so there’s no line anymore that separates the two. The title represents the irony that is when we think we’re together when we’re on Facebook, but we’re not.”
The number of an individual’s friends and followers online doesn’t reflect one’s capacity to build and maintain real-life, interpersonal relationships, Bahadoorsingh noted, adding the overuse of social media sites, mobile devices and even alcohol, is actually damaging when it comes to real-life relationships by breaking down communication.
Because of this, the message of his film is timely, he said.
“I think Facebook is at a point now where the hype is gone and people are starting to notice that it’s a big part of some people’s lives. Some are starting to notice how much of their lives it’s consuming and a lot of people have just withdrawn; they want to take a step back,” Bahadoorsingh explained.
And that’s just what he is doing.
In filming and producing the movie, Bahadoorsingh reached out to the Western community for help.
“My program has put me in touch with people. You have to make connections; the film community here (at Western) is very small,” he said, noting he asked around for professional actors and others who could help with making the movie.
“I don’t even own a video camera. I like to put people together. And often the people I work with are older and they have the technology and experience, so I use theirs and learn from them,” Bahadoorsingh added.
“I love using the resources here. I make these movies with hopes to meet people and with hopes to expand my real network.”
The production team has likewise recruited a composer who is working on an original score for the film, something that because of time restraints, couldn’t be done in time for the Ivey Film Festival. While he collaborates with a team to produce another movie, Bahadoorsingh plans to enter All Alone_Together in as many festivals as he can.
“Even if the movie isn’t successful, I think the message of taking a step back and analyzing your life and how much of it is based on social media, is useful,” he said. “The social repercussions of it are people will not be able to have a personal conversation; they won’t be able to relate on a personal level. I feel like we’ve have lost this connection.”
The Ivey Film Festival, presented through the Richard Ivey School of Business, is open to all post-secondary school students enrolled at Western and all of its affiliate colleges including Brescia University College, King’s University College and Huron University College.