Posted in Audio by - August 01, 2023

Released July 2023


With the intelligence once known as Friend now turned against humanity, the next logical step along this cynical look at the pervasiveness and deleterious effects of social media and online interconnectedness is to explore the role the unique relationships between influencers and their followers. In ‘Doomscroll’ by Ash Darby, something mysterious is killing influencers, and though not everyone in Torchwood may agree with influencers’ chosen lifestyle or messaging, everyone agrees that these killings must be stopped.

Of course, society as a whole is increasingly driven by the constant flow of information- global, personal, and completely unimportant- that is so readily and instantly available. For some, this means that life is lived through a phone screen, each and every action and word documented and uploaded for the masses to comment on and to like or disparage without a second’s thought. Unfortunately, in a time when artificial intelligence and deepfakes are becoming increasingly commonplace, ‘Doomscroll’ takes an even more cynical- and yet wholly reasonable- turn by positing that companies and platforms may get to a point at which they determine that influencers may be more valuable dead or at least not personally involved with posted content using their likenesses. It’s quite a frightening prospect made all the more visceral as influencers found dead continue to have content published through live feeds, and the sadder undertones when obsessions with subscribers prove all but meaningless as true friends prove to be all but absent in so many cases add a very human element to a story that so centrally revolves around the utter fiction belying the influencer lifestyle.

And while Colchester is incredulous about the entire influencer lifestyle and the reliance on attention and adulation from others while Tyler is increasingly annoyed that even personal relationships are subject to specific limitations so as to keep the influencer presence strong, both discover the genuine aspects of humanity that endure no matter the façade put up online or the burning obsession with technology. It’s perhaps telling that said humanity shines all that much brighter when phones and apps are taken out of the equation no matter how difficult it may be to achieve that separation, but while the argument can be made that influencers are acting solely as themselves and boldly putting themselves out without a character to hide behind, ‘Doomscroll’ wholly commits to the fact that people in general are missing out on the finer elements of life when so beholden to screens and the minutiae of chasing likes in the name of personal adulation or corporate advancement.

Jade Matthew and Jhon Lumsden both do quite well with providing a human element to a somewhat controversial profession, and while the relationship between Tyler and Chris comes about rather quickly given the many obstacles that Chris and his online demands create, it’s nonetheless satisfying to see the often-detached Tyler show genuine emotions and a true commitment to another individual no matter the hurdles and frustrations he must overcome. Jonny Green firmly takes control of this narrative as Tyler does his best to save Chris from the fate that has befallen so many others who have begun using a new app, and the relentless persistence of the online beckoning through provided phones, physical checks after an extended period offline, and even novel charging techniques for devices perfectly highlight just how difficult it is to step away from the digital world in such a deeply connected state. As a whole, though, ‘Doomscroll’ is more an indictment against the influencer lifestyle than a momentous step forward for the plot of Mia Hope’s Friend in an increasingly artificial world that Ng and Orr discover includes even corporate backdrops, but it nonetheless effectively touches upon a very relevant segment of the online age and presents some genuinely and heartbreakingly human moments as the threat of Friend becomes ever more insidious.

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