'Connected' Sheds Light on Our Addiction to Social Technology

More

Tiffany Shlain's feature-length documentary Connected is an intensely personal exploration of what human connection means in our modern, technology-obsessed world. In anticipation of the film's release in New York next week, she shares an excerpt that looks at how our brain chemistry compels us to reach for our gadgets 24-7.

When I asked her what gadget she absolutely couldn't live without she didn't hesitate, "Where do I begin? My iPhone. It’s my mind extension. And heart extension. Every thought I have I get to activate and every person I think about I get to call or email.”

Shlain worked on the film over the course of four years; what began as a documentary with a global scope suddenly became very personal when her father was diagnosed with cancer. She felt compelled to explore the emotional side of connection and began to interweave the narrative of her own life, including old home movies from her childhood.

Her signature documentary style consists almost entirely of archival and found footage paired with narration. The montage look developed when she studied film theory at Berkeley, which didn't offer actual film production classes. She began recutting old archival prints to make her own films; now her job is much easier, she says, because "on the internet, you can find anything."

The film is loosely thematic, riffing off her father's books about the evolution of the mind and a right vs. left brain approach to life. It's light on the science, however, and focuses on delving into Shlain's personal journey of losing her father, while building a family of her own. Those looking for an in-depth discussion of cognition or social networking might be disappointed, but many viewers gravitate to Shlain's story -- "At screenings, I get a lot of hugs," she says. 

Now, she and her family take one day a week away from technology to unplug completely. 

For more information about Connected, visit the Facebook page

Jump to comments

Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg is the executive producer for video at The AtlanticMore

Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg joined The Atlantic in 2011 to launch its video channel and, in 2013, create its in-house video production department. She leads the development and production of original documentaries, interviews, and other video content for The Atlantic. Previously, she worked as a producer at Al Gore’s Current TV and as a content strategist and documentary producer in San Francisco. She studied filmmaking and digital media at Harvard University.
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Ghost Trains of America

Can a band of locomotive experts save vintage railcars from ruin?


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Video

What If Emoji Lived Among Us?

A whimsical ad imagines what life would be like if emoji were real.

Video

Living Alone on a Sailboat

"If you think I'm a dirtbag, then you don't understand the lifestyle."

Video

How Is Social Media Changing Journalism?

How new platforms are transforming radio, TV, print, and digital

Video

The Place Where Silent Movies Sing

How an antique, wind-powered pipe organ brings films to life

Feature

The Future of Iced Coffee

Are artisan businesses like Blue Bottle doomed to fail when they go mainstream?

Writers

Up
Down

More in Video

Just In