The film perfectly encapsulates the issue of social media. A powerful tool that can bring people together yet used as a court of public opinion that ruined the life of a teenage boy. It explores repercussion of cyberbullying that goes beyond the digital space into the physical world when opinions and emotions supersede facts and truth.
Fuelled by the idea of mob mentality, the film shows how online pressure and communities react and judge the character’s behaviour and character without ever knowing the person in real life. The issue of fake news is evident and pervasive in the online world. Snippets of videos can be taken out of context and become viral overnight. Pictures and videos can be easily manipulated to further fuel the hatred and isolation of the victim. Social media has become a convenient platform for public condemnation.
The film also showcases the dilemmas of adults. While the cyberbullying incident revolves around children, the film highlights how dangerous it can be when adults are guilty of misconstruing facts with their preconceived notion of children’s behaviours and association with poverty. These adults appropriate the issue to their liking without the consideration of the victims of cyberbullying. The protection of the children’s dignity has become secondary to the stability of their social position and occupation.
John Denver Trending is a thought-provoking film that utilises the power of silence and cinematography to portray emotions and internal struggles of the character’s mind. It helps us understand the hopelessness and isolation of the victims of cyberbullying, especially for the young children. It warns us about the dangers of online slandering, outrage and fake news and how we can unintentionally be perpetrators of such unhealthy online practices in our society. This film also calls out mob and vigilantism behaviours – behaviours that stems from wanting to bring “justice and truth” to light but inevitably brings great emotional distress to parties involved. Often, online citizens quickly take sides and come to a conclusion based on the video snippets or photos shared. But what we fail to realise is the fact there are different sides to the truth and we are not privy to it. There is a call to be constructive online; agree to disagree and remain respectful regardless of the situations.
Head, TOUCH Community Services, Cyber Wellness