I just re-watched this movie. It features an amazing performance by Joaquin Phoenix. The most troublesome part of the movie is the parasocial interaction between the protagonist and his avatar GF. While he thinks there is a real connection, the relationship is very one sided. She is programmed to learn about him and become the perfect GF. Thus influencing his perspective of what a real life relationship should be like, all about him. How can this individual even hold a real life relationship with these expectations?
When Theodore runs into his ex-wife and comments that he is dating again, she inquires about this new woman. Theodore reveals that he is dating an OS system and she indicates that she is not surprised because he can’t deal with anything real. Theodore had previously committed his former wife to a mental hospital when she had a mental break down because he could not deal with the emotional load. It really makes the viewer question stereotypes on mental illness and the epidemic of loneliness that we are experiencing through the wide spread use of social media. Are the people showing their feelings of despair the ones who are sick, or are we labeling them as mentally ill because of our inability to contain them? Are they really the unhealthy ones? How can any relationship flourish without feeling free to express positive and negative feelings? The wide spread use of social media really makes me wonder if we as a society will lose the ability to truly connect with our feelings and those of others. Will we be able to contain ourselves and accept each other wholly instead of in pieces that are catered only for what we can handle? It is hard to say, but technology is definitely changing the way that we connect (or should I say, disconnect) with each other.
The sad fact is that according to research performed by the LSE about the future of dating, people are relying more and more on dating simulators and sex robots. Inevitably, reinforcing a cycle of loneliness for the simulator users. Here is what scientific research says about dating simulators and virtual relationships in general:
“Studying social interaction, and by extension parasocial interaction (PSI), follows a social cognitive approach to defining individual cognitive activity. Accordingly, there are similar psychological processes at work in both parasocial relationships and face-to-face interactions. However, the parasocial relationship does not follow the process of the typical long-term relationship. The media user remains a stranger to the media figure, whereas this ‘strangeness’ would gradually evaporate in typical social interaction…”
This is truly a challenging movie that makes us think about how we are using technology and how it shapes our perception of reality, love and relationships.
Here is a link to the Trailer- Enjoy!