I’ve been working in the media space for five years now, and I’m fully aware that my career and my personal brand is dependent on the digital world. It’s a sobering reality, one that I’ve become more aware of. My mentor asks me the same question every so often: “Could you do your job if the Internet crashed today? Would you still be relevant?” As tech companies are constantly on the brink of innovative breakthroughs, I keep that question filed in the back of my mind. As myself and those around me feed into the instant gratification that is social media networks, I keep in mind that none of it is tangible. Every photo, every post, every memory shared – their existence is contingent on the Internet’s well-being.

This isn’t a new conversation. We’ve all seen those short videos floating around on Facebook, you know, the ones that serve as a cautionary ad spot about being too connected to the digital world while opting to ignore our physical surroundings and relationships. I’ll admit, it’s not a dialogue that I used to put much weight into. During my senior year at college, a good friend of mine had the opportunity to appear on MTV’s True Life: I’m a Textaholic. I remember thinking how attached she was to her phone, and while I too had a texting problem, I never considered myself addicted. But then I moved to New York City and dove into the world of entertainment. I found myself becoming increasingly dependent on my phone, my laptop, and the social networks that displayed my work and chronicled my day-to-day experiences.

I realized that I wasn’t fully experiencing the moments I was so determined to capture and share with my following. I caught myself pulling out my phone during dinner with friends. Everything needed to be documented and shared. How else would people know I was living? It’s such a bizarre concept, one that I’ve since abandoned (for the most part). I’ve become less distracted by the technology I keep on my body and more in tune with the people around me. Because what’s the use of technology if you don’t have real connections without it?

This brings me to Francois Ferraci‘s short film Lost Memories (3Min) and its sequel Lost Memories 2.0 (15Min). Ferraci’s world explores this idea of being hyper-connected to technology as well as the harm it can cause to tangible relationships with our surroundings. Lost Memories became a viral hit in 2012, before Snapchat became the instant sharing titan that it is today, and before Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion. Sure, the dialogue about over-connectedness existed before then, but Lost Memories explored a deeper facet of that dilemma before 300-second Snap stories became the norm.

Ferraci’s Lost Memories constructs a not-so-distant future where the “Cloud” works in harmony with cameras to beam holographic photos into the air for easy uploading and organization. It centers around a seemingly happy couple on vacation. As they take photos in front of the Eiffel Tower, the woman becomes less enthused when her boyfriend obsesses over sharing the right photos with his network. She snaps a Polaroid picture of him before leaving him behind. And with the love of his life gone, the “Cloud” is simultaneously destroyed by an electromagnetic storm, wiping out the world’s digital space in the blink of an eye. With his lover gone and all their memories erased, he’s forced to live in a world with nothing.

Lost Memories 2.0 picks up a few years after the events of its predecessor, in what’s known as AC (After Cloud). Society has slowly recovered from the “Cloud’s” downfall and the digital world is back in full swing. People have fallen back into their addictive habits as if their lives weren’t upended by the collapse. But that man is still a shell of his former self, longing to be reconnected with the love of his life in a world of artificial connections. He eventually finds her despite her living off the grid. She explains her detachment and what drove a wedge between them.

As they grab each other’s hands at the film’s conclusion, Lost Memories drives home the narrative that personal connections outweigh social currency on any given platform. It reminds me — although to a more intimate, less badass degree — of Len Wiseman’s Live Free or Die Hard. In particular, when Timothy Olyphant’s character wipes out the digital infrastructure and cripples government agencies. Which begs the question: why do we put so much stock into something that can so easily be destroyed? I ask this as I panic while my computer fails to save the last half of this very piece.


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