Liz Smith – Filmmaker & Mental Health Advocate

liz-cam-op-squareWhile I’ve been a filmmaker for 15 years now, before I changed my career and headed off to film school I worked for one of Silicon Valley’s early internet companies.

I joined Yahoo! in 1997 and I was surrounded by an incredible group of people who, like me, felt like we were a part of a revolution, a good revolution. The internet was an enabling force that made sharing information, collaboration and communication easier and had the power to break down barriers and borders between countries. It had the power to give a 15 year old kid in Cardiff access to the world from her bedroom.

We were selling advertising on Yahoo! and did not have any deep-seated moral issues about that, after all advertising had been on our TV screens our whole lives and as consumers we were used to viewing advertising in exchange for a free service. It was an exciting time and there was no real sense that this incredible invention was going to be anything but good on balance. Of course there were some concerns (for e.g. how it was making pornography more accessible) but no one had a sense that we were setting in play the foundations for something that would be used so powerfully to influence behaviour and create an environment that is now a major factor in turning us into a society of anxious, isolated and exhausted people.

I love the internet and would be the first one to protest if there were a decree to shut it down, but as this darker side becomes more evident I feel it is important to explore what is going on and ask questions. I hope that through awareness building and discussion we can find ways of mitigating its negative effects and be able to celebrate the positives again.

I have a strong interest in psychology and compulsive behaviour that has been informed by my ongoing work developing and overseeing The Secret Illness platform. Other examples of my work can be found on my website.

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