- A bitter warning to the SNS generation, Social Phobia
WITCH-HUNT IN the Middle Ages referred to a search and killing of people that were suspected of being regarded as “witches.” Due to the moral panic or mass hysteria, women falsely accused of being witches were burned during the witch-hunts. With the advent of Social Network Services (SNS), the old witch-hunt is now back but has moved its platform from offline to online. The movie Social Phobia shows how online hunters, formed with the protection of anonymity, viciously trap their victim and publicly burn them at the stake.
The movie Social Phobia illustrates the witch-hunt culture, a rising issue in today’s society. The director of this movie Hong Sang-jae mentioned that “SNS definitely has a negative side in that innocent people can get buried socially with false rumors as the users cannot distinguish from what is the truth and what is not.” The director delivers his foreboding message effectively through the dark atmosphere and visual graphics of the movie. Whether or not the events in the movie happen at night or during the day, the characters are constantly surrounded by dim lightings. The director also uses visual graphics that shows the hateful comments popping out of the screen to accentuate the fearful impact of verbal attacks that happen online.
The movie shows how "everyone can be a victim.” In fact, every character in the movie becomes victims of an online witch-hunt. For instance, an online user named Lena used to be a cyberbully who frequently left hateful comments on the Internet. However, she ironically becomes the victim of cyberbullying which eventually leads her death.
Social Phobia realistically shows the crippling impact that cyberbullying could have on someone. All of the characters in the movie suffer from ongoing traumas and severe mental issues from the attack of online users. For example, in the movie Lena suffers from severe anxiety attacks after dealing with malicious comments and eventually commits suicide. However, people in the movie who have actually induced this innocent person to her death receive no repercussions for their venomous behavior. As no one knows the online users’ true identities, a sense of communal identity becomes greater and they are encouraged to participate in cyberbullying. Hiding behind their protective shield of anonymity, the online users often become even more violent than they would be in reality. Since the movie realistically portrays the reality of online violence, it raises the public awareness of how thoughtless actions online can cause great damage to the others. The movie also enlightens viewers on how the violence and dangers of anonymity by portraying an uncanny resemblance between what happens in the movie and what happens in the real world.
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In a society where dependence on media is high, it is important to be judgmental of the information on SNS. It is so easy to just hide behind the anonymity and offend others based on illogical evidence. Be a person who combats against the inappropriate use of SNS. Be a knowledgeable SNS user. Be a responsible SNS user. Be a Social Friendly, not a Social Phobic.
Lee Sun-Joo firstname.lastname@example.org
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