Aleks Krotoski asks if moving our lives online has given us a false sense of normality during these extraordinary times.
For those of us lucky enough to be able to work, shop and socialise there our connections to the digital world have been a lifeline, keeping us in touch with what normality is or at least was. If lockdown had happened 15 years ago it might have been a very different story.
Aleks explores the experiences of people who used technology to try and feel normal to see where it works and where it doesn't as well as investigating our whole concept of 'normal' and why we cling to it so desperately.
Producer: Peter McManus
Research: Elizabeth Ann Duffy and Anna Miles
Aleks Krotoski explores how the mechanics of the digital environment allow misinformation to swamp digital platforms.
Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, they are all swamped with cheery, colourful ‘life hack’ and crafting videos, but if you watch for more than a few minutes you’ll see that actually trying to follow along would prove difficult, if not impossible. Much of the content isn’t even possible to do. And yet, it’s extraordinarily popular, and profitable content.
Clickbait isn’t new, but this is potentially dangerous eye candy, and when you look beneath the surface, it’s possible to see that the same infrastructure and techniques have made life hacks go viral, can, in the wrong hands, be exploited for deliberately malicious ends.
It only takes a few minutes to set up a system that can swamp the internet. Be it with unintentionally dangerous DIY suggestions aimed at children, or deliberate political machinations targeted at adults.
We are stuck in a moment. Inside our homes, the days can feel like they’re stretching ahead.
Aleks Krotoski explores how technologies can lift us out of the mundane and help us regain a sense of control.
Jan Scheuermann is a quadriplegic. She's unable to use her arms and legs and controls her wheelchair with her chin. In 2011 she joined a research trial that would change the way she saw herself and her life.
We hear from Tom Mast, a college student whose new independent life was put on hold by a pandemic; Tiu de Haan, an ideas doula who has worked with the UN, who explains how building a den or cocoon can trigger daydreaming and help birth new ideas; and psychologist Eli Somer, who is an expert on daydreaming.
Produced by Caitlin Smith and Kate Bissell
Sound Design by Eloise Whitmore
Aleks explores whether the moment we're in is the internet’s greatest stress test.
Can a network that was built to connect human beings through facts and figures support someone during their greatest hour of need?
Philip Blackledge is a priest, who's been sitting with Covid-19 patients. He says the pain and separation he has witnessed has been heartbreaking but technology has offered a bridge between loved ones. Philip acknowledges, the grace the dying have shown in using technology to make peace with those they’re leaving behind, because of restrictions and separation, has been very moving. But he explains why we are asking technology to do a lot.
Zainab Gulamali highlights how for the Muslim community mourning has been taken online, but there is much to navigate. Zainab tells how she accidentally ended up virtually attending a funeral of someone she didn’t know on instagram live. And Zainab describes how an online memorial for her Grandmother’s death allowed her for the first time to witness the emotion of older members of her family. She says that attending funerals online is a much more real and raw experience.
Jay McGregor’s father, Jason Weatherman, a well known and respected DJ within the UK’s black community died during the pandemic and after an outpouring of grief from around the world, his family and friends decided to host the first ever customary Nine Nights celebration online. 25,000 people joined the live stream and Jay says this event gave her more comfort than anything following her father’s passing.
This is not what the pioneers of the internet imagined - they thought they would build a global community to share information but what they did - and we didn’t believe it until now - was to create a technology that is a bridge for love.
Produced by Kate Bissell
For the entirety of human history, we have made tools and those tools have then shaped us. But in the digital age, that ancient feedback loop has become more complicated.
We are fully conscious of the impact our tools can have on us, and we have the chance to guide our future symbiotic relationship with out technology, in a way that expands our cognitive capacity, creativity and skills that would make us fulfill our untapped potential as a species.
But is that possible when the vast majority of us have become detached from the development of our technology? What happens to the ancient feedback loop when we are being shaped by obscure devices, in an age of digital blackboxes?
Aleks Krotoski explores the history of how we have been shaped by tool development, and discovers how we can plug back into the process, and shape out symbiotic future.