Connections, and Her

So I cried at Her, again. Those lonely characters seeking companionship in technology made me sad about how we connect with others, and the second viewing wasn’t any less intense.

Both times I saw the film in the same theater—the first time alone, the second time not. The first time I was two weeks into my job, and taking myself to the movies was thought to be a detox from the overstimulation of adopting the new skills needed for a job in social media: the ever-presence of screens, instant communication, and connections through technology. What I got out of watching Her for the first time was not a detox but an accentuation of those things, albeit without the fast-paced excitement of my job. Her is pretty melancholy and takes a subtly cautionary stance on the future of technology as a crutch and sometimes impediment to true human connection. I sat through the credits, tears streaming down my face, thankful for being alone in a dark theater where no one had to share my discomfort.

The second time I was three months into the job, more confident in my work (and less exhausted by it) and also more optimistic about the power of social media to bring us together. Yet the tears came for the same reason, and I felt overwhelmed by the tendencies we have to use media for what we think is connection but really may be preventing it. My discomfort this time extended to my movie-going companion, who was less moved by it but who did articulate that it made her uncomfortable. So did my tears, it was clear, as she eyed me sideways while the credits rolled. It took us a while to dissect what had happened to me in the theater, and we slowly inched from a place of distance at our differing reactions back to a place of understanding.  The whole post-viewing discussion, and even tone, was surprisingly Her-like, as it highlighted how we, as people, can go from connection to disconnection and back again in the smallest moments, like flecks of dust being brushed off a table only to fall back upon it again. With or without technology, connection is hard, but I am thankful that Her made me aware of how humans need it, try to get it, block themselves from it, and finally find it, even if only for a moment.

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