The discrepancy between how hacking is presented in film and its painstaking reality.

We have all seen it: a tech savvy nerd surrounded by computer screens and blinking gadgets while furiously typing away at the keyboard. Hacking has become a TV trope embedded in the minds by classics like WarGames, Hackers and Tron but what is wrong with the image? Why does Hollywood feel the need to dramatize and make hacking a sort of action packed activity? Do you see a trend towards more accurate descriptions of hacking like in Mr. Robot (despite it’s often pointed out inaccuracies)?

  • I think the issue with anything to do with computers in real life is that the process is often quite slow and without much action. As a developer I sometimes spend only 30% of my time actually coding and then another 70% finding errors with that code. It might be hard to sell a movie with two people sitting around a monitor looking for an errant semi-colon. – Uldrendan 5 years ago
  • Perhaps there is nothing wrong with this dramatized image of a "hacker" - there many professions that are not depicted accurately in a fictional setting. Doctors in Grey's Anatomy and crime investigators in NCIS, CSI, etc, are both good examples of an unrealistic, glamorized depiction of real life occupations. You could explore whether or not these unrealistic depictions have a negative or positive impact on society (for Grey's, I remember seeing a statistic that said that Grey's increased the number of women in science/medicine, but don't quote me on that). As for the reason that hackers are depicted this way, movies and TV shows do not show the boring stuff that real life "hackers" do in order to get things done. As Uldrendan mentioned, most of the time for programmers, developers, and other tech-savvy people is spent finding errors and trying to fix them. I have to do some programming for work, and it is actually exciting when you finally fix an error or finally find a solution to a problem, but there is hardly ever an instantaneous solution. There is no time for delayed gratification in movies or TV, so an accurate depiction of "hackers" would not make for a compelling narrative. – zaowow 5 years ago

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