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Cinema as a cure for hyperconnection

Cinema as a cure for hyperconnection
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Recently, I discussed cinema at an event for sponsors and supporters organized by the Ennesimo Film Festival, which attracts thousands of viewers annually and develops dozens of school projects. To start the talk, I asked myself: Can cinema be an antidote to hyperconnectivity?

The question might seem abstract, but it’s clearer if simplified: Can we still watch a movie from start to finish without interruptions, WhatsApp messages, or checking emails? A common answer might be: “At home no, in the cinema yes.” This realization led me to reflect on cinema’s role in the era of distraction.

Cinema in the Age of Hyperhistory

As a consultant, I noticed a lack of proper listening attitude. Constant interruptions and overloads hinder creating an ideal environment for divergent, creative thinking outside the box, fostering new visions and neural connections. I’ve been exploring the relationship between digital technologies and cognitive faculties, with interdisciplinary studies in psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, and mindfulness. The focus is on understanding how hyperconnectivity deprives us of vital life dimensions and impairs intellectual capacities.

While the Internet allows us to work, share knowledge, and communicate like never before (termed hyperhistory), intensive smartphone and computer use is seriously compromising our intelligence, memory, and attention span. I’ve discussed this in my courses, with the Digital Detox Design project, and in schools, both in specific projects and as a volunteer for the Digital Ethical Movement.

Symptoms: Multitasking and Infobesity

We are trapped in false beliefs that hinder our mind’s potential. Celebrated multitasking, for instance, doesn’t exist. Our brain performs one task at a time.

Engaging in multiple tasks simultaneously leads to distraction errors, increased stress, irritability, and resistance to changing even incorrect habits. Our performance worsens and takes longer.

cinema

This also affects our private lives: prolonged multitasking damages the brain, reduces empathy, deep understanding, and emotional intelligence.

We use phones for 5 to 7 hours a day. 82% of youth are at risk of smartphone addiction. We are polluted, intoxicated. We binge on information without realizing its weight and influence on our thoughts and moods. We’re becoming infobese.

It’s time to diet, to become more aware not just of carbs and daily steps but also of the information and emotions we consume.

Listening to Emotions

How much anger and happiness do we consume? How many notifications do we receive and messages do we send? Were they thoughtful or hastily written/read? What emotions did they convey? Do we remember them? It’s important to know, for ourselves, our loved ones, and our businesses.

Familiarizing with states where the mind calms, softens, and becomes open to deep listening is vital. Just like when we go to the cinema.

When we sit in the cinema and the lights go out, something special happens: a moment of silence, preparing us to receive meanings, stories, emotions. An instant of emptiness.

The Potential of Cinema

Emptiness isn’t nothingness. As Buddhism and quantum physics explain, emptiness is infinite potential.

Allowing space for often neglected dimensions of existence enables brilliant ideas, memories, and intuitions to surface spontaneously. Cinema offers a valuable chance to escape everyday banality, to process our experiences, to breathe. A “looking outward to look inward” approach enables a metacognitive process that thinkers and mystics have recommended for a more conscious, free, and happy life for ourselves and others.

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One single film can spark reflections that change our thoughts. A friend recently shared that a film quote, whose title and author she can’t recall, radically transformed her and her daughter’s lives by encouraging them to face their fears.

Some films can impact society. For example, Oscar-winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s documentaries on women’s violence in Pakistan changed government laws on honor crimes. Similarly, the Italian film “There’s Still Tomorrow” reopened debates on sex education in schools.

A Cure at Risk

However, this wonder, from the Lumière brothers and Méliès to today, shows its vulnerability.

The cinema system is fragile. Multiplexes, meant to save it, have become soulless, audience-less non-places. Historic cinemas have nearly vanished. Except for a few successes, major productions are flattening into standardized formats without aura. Authentic, courageous cinema is in danger.

There are objective problems of costs, bureaucracy, distribution, and online piracy and viewing, depleting not just finances but also the creativity of those who imagine, think, and make cinema.

But we, as the audience, also have a responsibility.

cinema

It’s up to us to choose what to watch, to listen to our emotions, to grasp and interpret subtexts, to see the invisible threads linking screen stories to ours. We need to give ourselves quality time, perhaps diverting our gaze from overcrowded feeds for a couple of hours.

We risk losing a fundamental cultural dimension because we can’t detach from our phones and the constant communication flow that becomes mere background noise.

Disconnecting and Rediscovering

It’s time to disconnect to reconnect, to re-educate ourselves to listening, to rediscover a broader sense and find new horizons and spaces for presence and dialogue.

The next time we go to the cinema, we should pay more attention to that moment of darkness and silence that prepares us to grasp different meanings, to question, to fantasize, and to leave, perhaps better than when we entered.

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