Former advertising executive says Todd Sampson’s documentary about how the internet is a giant, unregulated psychological experiment and our change isn’t worrisome, it’s just a fact.
In his two-part film, Mirror Mirror: Love & Hate, Sampson shows us firsthand the mind-altering power of technology. It is a very attractive technology where children choose the online world over the real world and a mature man falls in love with a custom chatbot.
“Generally speaking, people who claim moral panic are childless people,” Sampson says before the show airs over two nights. Channel 10 in Australia. “Because if you have kids, you realize it’s not a moral panic, it’s just a fact.”
Mirror Mirror is timely, as it comes as a week after the coroner was found in the UK Social media contributed to the death of a teenager, which leads a depressed girl down a Dark path of annoying contentand has similar themes to the 2020 Netflix documentary social dilemma.
“I no longer consider it a panic or a moral ultimatum, but rather an important use of my voice,” Sampson says. “I understand that people who may not have children or people who really work in tech companies will not like it. But I just made a bunch of stories, from a 14-month-old to a 65-year-old.”
His passion for the material is infectious and he’s tracked down some unusual personal stories that are sure to send the message home and make the case for further organization.
Former CEO of advertising agency Leo Burnett Australia, Sampson has turned his back on the industry and embraced a career in television. He has produced and presented a series of films including Life on the Line, Body Hack and Redesign My Brain, as well as the first series of Mirror Mirror which focused on body image.
His love for television broke out in 2008 when he appeared as a speaker on the ad show for Will Anderson, then known as The Gruen Transfer.
Sampson offers some troubling statistics: According to Electronic Safety Commissioner There has been a 245% increase in unsatisfactory sharing of intimate photos and videos in the past three years; 70% of kids have experienced hate speech online, and teens who spend more than three hours a day on devices have a 35% higher risk of suicide.
“I think we’re on the cusp of a global crisis,” Sampson says. “So you can call that panic. I just call that reality. Is the movie a warning? Yes.”
Sampson is an empathetic interviewer, who allows his subjects to open up to the camera even when their online experience is offensive. Like the young woman who felt in love to believe she was in love with a man she had never met before who persuaded her to send intimate pictures of him before he disappeared.
“You could hear my voice cracking because I’m like, ‘Oh, no, I was devastated emotionally and psychologically because of this system that we let happen,'” Sampson says.
Or the guy who invested time and money in a relationship with an iconic character, Anastasia, who designed him to act like his perfect girlfriend. Sampson seems to believe him when he says he loves her and prefers her over a human girlfriend. “I always go into an interview with no sarcasm or no agenda,” Sampson says. “The remarkable thing is that he really likes a virtual robot because from the perspective of the brain, it gets the same serotonin hit, it’s getting the same oxytocin.”
Sampson says research now shows that screen time in and of itself isn’t harmful to young people’s mental health but the “like” button, first introduced in 2009.
“This is where they think the underlying problem is,” says Sampson. “We’re not supposed to get a lot of positive or negative feedback, but kids crave it online now and crave it from strangers.”