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You need to see this 17-minute film set entirely on a teen’s phone

“Pocket” paints a vivid portrait of an average teen’s life by showing everything he does on his phone. And we do mean everything. (Warning: NSFW)

You need to see this 17-minute film set entirely on a teen’s phone

What: Pocket, an NSFW short film that shows what a teen’s life is like in 2019 with excruciating detail.

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Who: Director Mishka Kornai and writer Zach Wechter.

Why we care: Last summer, Bo Burnham’s film Eight Grade answered a question Olds have been wondering for years: What’s it like to become a teenager in a world where iPhones and social media have long existed? Millennials felt the novelty of these technologies becoming embedded in the fabric of our lives when they were teens, and Generation X experienced it in adulthood. For anyone currently a teenager, though, it’s all they’ve ever known. If that fact didn’t seem terrifying enough, in Burnham’s sweet, tender depiction of the raw desperation of digital youth, Pocket should get the job done.

The 17-minute film spans a year in the life of a 15-year old named Jake, entirely from the point of view of his iPhone. Like a combination of last year’s John Cho thriller Searching, and the 2013 viral hit Noah, Pocket tells a story by letting us see what a screen sees. We see Jake breeze through FOMO-inspiring and horny-making Insta stories, flirting in the DMs, and notably not going anywhere near Twitter or Facebook. (Snapchat eventually makes an appearance when it’s time for sexting.) We see quick flashes of things he’s doing while also looking at his phone, and these include age-old pastimes such as skateboarding, playing guitar, and going to the beach. We also see him browse porn, smoke weed, and cheat on a test.

Jake is basically a good kid, maybe, and we know that because we are seeing his absolute most intimate moments, when he doesn’t know he’s being observed. One text exchange with a girl is particularly illuminating, both for what Jake almost types and what he finally does. Of course, in non-digital exchanges, one never gets the opportunity to troubleshoot the right thing to say, which is why Jake seems to have a harder time communicating with people offline, in the so-called meatspace. He will never know what it’s like for that to be the only option.

Pocket is an up-to-the-minute film (“I just got a handjob during Captain Marvel!” one character shares) that presents without judgment how teenagers of today tend to process meme-fluency, wall-to-wall advertising, new ways to be horny, and the pitfalls of virality. There’s a secondary message too, though. The film is meant to be watched on a phone, to re-create the environment it’s depicting, and to give viewers the feeling of casually invading someone’s privacy. That this is what would be visible to anyone who could potentially access someone else’s phone adds a layer of paranoia and a chance for reflection. What would someone see through the lens of your phone?

Watch the short film below, preferably on your phone.

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