Disconnect: A New Movie Sounds the Alarm About Our Hyper-Connected Lives
In the 1840s, Benjamin Disraeli, still a long way from being prime minister of England, wanted to wake people up to the plight of the British working class -- and move them to act. The alarm he sounded wasn't delivered in a speech, a pamphlet, or an article -- but in a novel, Sybil, published in 1845. It had the desired effect -- raising awareness, provoking outrage, and leading to the passage of several fundamental social reforms.
Disraeli knew that one of the most effective ways to touch people is through narrative -- putting flesh and blood on raw facts and data. Ever since I read Sybil when I was at Cambridge, I've loved thinkers and writers and gadflies who use storytelling to reach people and get us to act. Of course, since Disraeli's time, other powerful ways of telling those stories have emerged -- including movies.
And so it was that I found myself moderating a panel discussion last week with the director and two cast members (Frank Grillo and Marc Jacobs -- yes, that Marc Jacobs!) of a movie that uses storytelling to wake us up to one of the biggest problems of our modern age: the effect that being "connected" to technology 24/7 is having on our ability to connect with our lives, ourselves and the people we love.