So Spring Break is here. I get to rest a bit from my efforts and my daily battles with students. What do I do on this break? Go and discover a fantastic new show to binge watch. The show? Mr. Robot.
Its incredible. The lead character is crazy, literally, I mean, batshit crazy. He is also brilliant, vulnerable and incredibly lovable. He knows himself so well that he manages to lose himself; perhaps by accident, perhaps as a way to cope. He is a drug addict and a genius; he is also so odd looking that it makes him beautiful.
The show is well written, it hacks into people's character, all because it shows how open we make ourselves with our cell phones and various other technology. We hide ourselves from the public and reveal our true selves to our technology; it (whatever form it may take) we key breadcrumbs of our character and our morality into digital devices that we entrust with our deepest darkest fears and secrets. Some of us even create alternate worlds and lives that we live all completely online.
The main character on the show, Elliot, can see through the facade...he can see the person behind the keys, the reason behind the clicks, he can see, you. That's what is so fascinating, because while he is decoding the person in the scene, while he is unraveling their facade, we are there as audience members to unravel him.
On the show, computers are only a vehicle to much more interesting subject matter, humans. Humans run around and hurt each other for greed, for power, and to somehow prove that they are not here alone. Computers, data, mobile connections, and 4g, that's just a new way to go about ones plans, a quicker way to be seen, heard, and never forgotten.
I look at this show, and I wonder what effect have computers and networks will have on the personable-ness of the next generation and on how they use their brains. I have information right at my fingertips, hundreds and hundreds of songs all with me at all times, (remember when you used to carry around a notebook of CD's?), I can shop in my pajamas, and talk to people from the comfort of my couch, yet It doesn't seem that my students realize how amazing their tablets and cell phones are.
A teacher's worst enemy can be a cell phone. There is a whole world that a student holds in his or her world that does not involve you or whatever it is that you are trying to force feed to the people that sit before you.
I have become really savvy about utilizing cell phones as tools for research, for finding answers, clarifying the unclear, yet even I cannot break the zombie-like gaze that my students, young and older, have on their cellphones. I cannot offer something more interesting than whatever is calling them back into that world. This world is often not one of fact finding, clarifying, or even music...its gazing at the world of other people.
It seems that we are not training thinkers but voyeurs.... We are allowing our young people to walk around gazing at an alternate universe from their cell phones.
Take some family time, or time with friends, turn on the first few episodes of Mr. Robot, and discuss it. Hack yourself and discover what online habits are there. Do you lose yourself behind that keyboard? Do your kids? Would you be afraid of who people would find if they hacked you?
Hats off to Sam Esmail (the show's creator) and Rami Malek (lead actor) for an incredible show that is incredibly diverse and explores our humanity in such a complex way.