As I have gotten older I have started to realize what it means to be constantly connected to everyone around you via technology. It is almost like we are all living two lives. There is your day to day persona then there is your online life. Your online self you can make whatever you choose and operate with total anonymity. Unfortunately, in the hands of some people it can be used for malicious reasons such as bullying and theft. What really floors me is how easy it is to do such things and how hard it is to trace it back to the source.
“Disconnect” takes us in to the lives of many people who will be affected fairly negativley through the use of social networking. A mother and father will possibly lose their son after he attempts suicide as a result of online bullying. Then there is a grieving couple who have just lost their son who will be torn further apart by identity theft. Another father will find out that his son was the bully who sent the other father’s son to the hospital. A female journalist will come close to losing her job and possibly a criminal conviction after a story she is doing on child pornography brings her over the line.
Jason Bateman, in possibly his best performance, plays Rich Boyd, the father of Ben, a teenage loner who spends his days putting home made music on the internet. Ben soon becomes the target of two other boys at school, who create a fake online profile of a teen girl and pretend to like him. Eventually they talk Ben in to sending them a picture of himself naked resulting in the two cruel boys sending it around the school. Ben tries to kill himself sending Rich on an onilne quest to find out how this all happened.
Frank Grillo plays Mike Dixon, the father of one of the boys who started this prank. He works as a private detective who specialises in online fraud and identity theft. He is eventually hired by Cindy and Derek, a couple who recently lost their child. They have recently been the victims of identity theft that has resulted in maxed out credit cards and a negative balance in their bank accounts. It is discovered that Cindy has been chatting online with a grieving support group which was used as the gateway in to their computer.
The final plot line involves Andrea Riseborough as Nina, a struggling journalist who is trying to put together a story about underage kids working as web cam workers who are being forced to strip down for strangers. She eventualy pursuades Kyle, portrayed by Max Thieriot, to tell his story anonymously. When the story explodes, she finds herself forced to expose Kyle to save her job and lively hood. She also struggles with refraining from crossing the line with this kid as he is very charismatic and becomes infatuated with her.
All of this comes crashing together in a series of ways similar to movies like “Traffic” and “Crash”. The writing and directing seemed so effortless at this point as normally these kinds of endings seem like they could only exist in a movie. Sure there is some melodrama as well as some unlikely coincidences but it is no less effective because of it.
It scares me to think of how much personal information is accessable by almost anyone on the internet. That is the reason I use things like Facebook and Twitter so minimally. I refrain from signing up for too many social networks. When it comes to your children I think the best you can do is simply monitor their activities as closely as you can. A movie like “Disconnect” can be a bit misleading as it does focus mainly on the negative side of social networking. Most people use it to keep in contact with loved ones or promote their business among numerous other things. It is a group of people who use them for malicious purposes who get all the media attention.