4 years ago

Stare Into The Lights My Pretties

A film about screen culture and its implications. While the world burns, where are we?

We live in a world of screens. The average adult spends the majority of their waking hours in front of some sort of screen or device. We’re enthralled, we’re addicted to these machines.  How did we get here? Who benefits?  What are the cumulative impacts on people, society and the environment? What may come next if this culture is left unchecked, to its end trajectory, and is that what we want?

‘your phone is like a slot machine, you never know if you’re gonna strike gold and win.’

Your likes, passions and habits are best known by people you’ve never met. They have the power to read your mind, mold your thoughts, and determine where you spend your hard-earned euro’s or dollars. They’re the capitalistic kings of the new digital age – the online persuaders. Every day, billions of people around the globe are transfixed by their computers, tablets and smartphones: ‘your phone is like a slot machine, you never know if you’re gonna strike gold and win.’ How often do we touch our phones? A. Oh, only about 2,617 times a day 

Susan Greenfield is a leading British neuroscientist and writer. Whilst specializing in the physiology of the brain, her areas of research include the impact of 21st century technology on the mind, how the brain generates consciousness as well as novel approaches to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimers and Parkinsons.

Technology & the human mind | Susan Greenfield | TEDxOxford

Find out more about Screen Technologies, and how screening for diseases works.

Connected, but alone?

As we expect more from technology, do we expect less from each other? MIT professor Sherry Turkle studies how our devices and online personas are redefining human connection and communication — and asks us to think deeply about the new kinds of connection we want to have.

What is the connection between Social Networks and Being Lonely? Quoting the words of Sherry Turkle from her TED talk – Connected, But Alone. 

A documentary about the world of screens we are immersed in.

Stare Into The Lights My Pretties investigates these questions with an urge to return to the real physical world, to form a critical view of technological escalation driven by rapacious and pervasive corporate interest. Covering themes of addiction, privacy, surveillance, information manipulation, behaviour modification and social control, the film lays the foundations as to why we may feel like we’re sleep running into some dystopian nightmare with the machines at the helm. Because we are, if we don’t seriously avert our eyes to stop this culture from destroying what is left of the real world.

This independent film was made with no budget (adding to its authenticity) with no affiliations, is not-for-profit, and is released to the world for free for the purposes of critical discourse, education, and for cultivating radical social and political change.


The biggest psychological experiment ever is being conducted, and we’re all taking part in it: every day, a billion people are tested online.

All the while, their online behaviors are being monitored, studied, and interpreted for the benefit of hugely profitable business interests. Consumerism is no longer driven by roadside billboards and 30 second television advertisements. Every click of the mouse can help to determine your next purchase, shape the cultural perception of an important issue, occupy every moment of our free time, direct social discourse, or even influence the outcome of a presidential election.

Which ingenious tricks and other digital laws ensure that we fill our online shopping carts to the brim, or stay on websites as long as possible? Or vote for a particular candidate?

The bankruptcies of department stores and shoe shops clearly show that our buying behaviour is rapidly shifting to the Internet. An entirely new field has arisen, of ‘user experience’ architects and ‘online persuasion officers’. How do these digital data dealers use, manipulate and abuse our user experience? Not just when it comes to buying things, but also with regards to our free time and political preferences.

Aren’t companies, which are running millions of tests at a time, miles ahead of science and government, in this respect? Now the creators of these digital seduction techniques, former Google employees among them, are themselves arguing for the introduction of an ethical code. What does it mean, when the conductors of experiments themselves are asking for their power and possibilities to be restricted?

What Makes You Click is both a fascinating psychological study and a gripping cautionary tale. The filmmakers navigate these uncharted new realities from an informed and probing point of view, and introduce a series of dilemmas our society is likely to grapple with for many years to come – and they’re the subject of this new documentary from the renowned Dutch VPRO Backlight series.

The film’s talking heads are Bart Schutz, Natasha Dow Schüll (anthropologist), James Williams (persuasion technology researcher), Pepijn Rijvers (chief marketing officer Booking.com), Timothy Prescott (political data analyst) and Tristan Harris (user experience designer ‘Time Well Spent’ movement)

Watch in full here:


Smartphones are damaging this generation’s mental health – weforum.org
Former Facebook exec says social media is ripping apart society – theverge.com 
The Binge Breaker – Tristan Harris believes Silicon Valley is addicting us to our phones. He’s determined to make it stop – theatlantic.com
Early Facebook and Google employees are planning to lobby against tech addiction – qz.com
Is social media causing childhood depression? – BBC News
Energy riches fuel bitcoin craze for speculation-shy Iceland – ABC News
Researchers Create Simulation Of a Simple Worm’s Neural Network – Tuwien
Google and Facebook are watching our every move online. It’s time to make them stop – CNBC.com
Facebook Really Wants You to Come Back – bloomberg.com 
Thanks to “consent” buried deep in sales agreements, car manufacturers are tracking tens of millions of US cars – boingboing
Facebook should be ‘regulated like cigarette industry’, says tech CEO – theguardian.com
Study links decline in teenagers’ happiness to smartphones – pressherald.com
You spend nearly a whole day each week on the internet – cnet.com
We Are Truly Fucked: Everyone Is Making AI-Generated Fake Porn Now – motherboard.vice.com
Apple says it looks out for kids, as investors cite phone ‘addiction’ – reuters.com
Pentagon Seeks Laser-Powered Bat Drones – defenseone.com
That Game on Your Phone May Be Tracking What You’re Watching on TV – nytimes.com
12 days in Xinjiang: How China’s surveillance state overwhelms daily life – business-standard.com