With our popcorn in one hand and notebooks in the other, the ParentsCorner team stepped out of the office and into the visual journey of the latest techno-thriller, Nerve. Directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, Nerve sets out to explore the potential dangers of social media and voyeurism through its appeal to the internet generation.
Taglined “truth or dare, without the truth” Nerve tells the story of a group of high-school students daring to become “insta-famous” by playing the latest online game called Nerve. This game, whose heartbeat relies on its subscribers, gives its participants the choice to be a watcher or a player with the latter being dared to engage in activities given to them by the watchers. Best described as a live-streamed reality show, Nerve allows for the watchers to pay, like, decide on, share and comment on the players dares as they happen, the component that eggs each player to take on a new dare to increase their popularity and earn money.
Vee, the film’s protagonist, is a shy yearbook photographer who pines to leave the restraints of Staten Island but is limited by her do-good attitude. Under pressure from her wildly popular best-friend, Vee decides to take a risk and join the game as a player and quickly learns that it could be the most fatal decision she has ever made.
Following the dares and romantic antics along the way, the film quickly highlights the dangers of social media by foregrounding ideas of anonymity, digital footprints, privacy and the desire for popularity. Nerve with its suspense and light-hearted story-line, quite obviously brings to light the concern about people who are unaware that their anonymous online activity could have devastating effects on themselves and others.
Coupled with this, the film delves into the idea of online privacy and places a huge emphasis on the fact that personal information can be manipulated if it lands up in the hands of the wrong people. Vee’s choice to be a player on Nerve quickly takes a turn for the worst when her digital footprint becomes accessible to the watchers. The watchers immediately gain insight into her personal and private life which has devastating effects on herself and the people closest to her. This thread in the film specifically highlights how easy it is to access information about anyone online.
For us, at ParentsCorner, Nerve tackles issues that we find ourselves dealing with on a daily basis. It leaves you thinking about your use of social media and whether or not you are will ever be safe online. It highlights the fact that social conformity in an online world can lead you to unwillingly partake in activities that could be harmful to you and those closest to you. Ultimately, Nerve takes a unique approach to the dangers of the online world; an approach that prompted us to encourage our readers to adopt a more informed approach when engaging on online platforms and games. We recommend that parents watch this film and start to rethink their children’s use of and reliance on social media and the internet. Even though this film is an extreme example of online abuse and misdeeds, we urge parents to be aware that even children with the best intentions can become targets of online victimization.