What happens when we wean ourselves off of technology for a day? An independent Alabama filmmaker explores just that in his new documentary, Follow Me @.
In his first feature length film, Chason Smitherman Sr. follows his friend Frank around to see how his psyche reacts to a day unplugged from the digital world.
“It doesn’t feel good,” Frank says in the promo.
Frank describes his relationship with his phone as many Americans probably would. “Even if I’m not posting, I’m scrolling,” he says.
Studies vary by demographic, but Americans spend hours and hours on their smartphones each day, not to mention the other screens used to entertain or inform.
“It may be a good thing though to not really keep up with so much stuff,” Frank says, seeming to conclude that maybe less smartphone use is better.
Smitherman clearly believes that, admitting that Frank is a true addict. “The only time I see him put down his phone is for 15 minutes at church,” he said in an interview with Yellowhammer.
He takes all this so seriously that he has made a significant life change.
“After an iPhone 7 Plus, I now have a flip phone,” Smitherman said. “It’s sad to me when I see people stuck on their cell phones, and it’s like this tolerated addiction.”
For part of the movie, Smitherman plans to travel to reSTART Life, an inpatient internet and video game addiction recovery center in Fall City, WA, where patients are medically weaned off of the drug of digital life.
Aside from the new project, Smitherman has done a number of short films for Yellowhammer, some of which are fun and more lighthearted (check out this one he did, interviewing folks on the street about Doug Jones and Roy Moore) and others more serious, dealing with issues like community-police relations.
Follow Me @ will be released in May 2018. Follow Smitherman and support his project here so that he can travel to Washington and other places to finish the movie.