BY ALYSSA KHAN
This article contains spoilers
It’s no secret that society nowadays is consumed by the temptations of social media. From kids to adults, social media has without a doubt become one of the largest influences on humanity. The main issue with social media is that its very users are unaware of the damage it can cause to themselves and society, as well as the underlying immorality of this business. The unknown threats are the ones that do the most damage and Netflix’s latest documentary “The Social Dilemma” does a stellar job of breaking down this threat.
This documentary, directed by Jeff Orlowski, elaborates on how humans are just a pawn in the game of the technology industry. It breaks down the so-called “algorithm” that sucks a vast amount of users into the virtual horrors and unethical practices of social media.
The film features a group of former social media employees for huge companies such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Google, Snapchat, Pinterest and many more. The creator of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, even made an appearance as well. Each of these workers described the positive intentions they had when first going into the tech industry. None of them anticipated, though, the negative impact that these apps would leave on society. This reputable cast was key to giving the film its drastic, yet also informative edge.
“When I was there [at Twitter], I always felt like, fundamentally, it was a force for good. I don’t know if I feel that way anymore.”Former Senior Vice-President of Twitter Alex Roetter
“When I was there [at Twitter], I always felt like, fundamentally, it was a force for good,” former Senior Vice-President of Twitter Alex Roetter said. “I don’t know if I feel that way anymore.”
These social media experts assured that the apps were created to bring communities together and promote happiness. The documentary mentions the Facebook “like” button, created by Justin Rosenstein, that was intended to spread positivity. The “like” was supposed to be a way for friends and family to express their “like” of a person’s photo. Over time, “likes” became a negative thing. People became obsessed and at times unhappy with the number of likes they got on photos, turning a formerly beneficial feature into hasty competition on the internet.
“The Social Dilemma” also describes how this concept of social media dangers and “likes” is impacting modern teenagers. They are the ones who tend to eagerly try and rack up “likes.” When they don’t get a certain amount, they get upset. Social psychologist and author Jonathan Haidt explained the nerve-wracking statistics associated with this idea.
“There has been a gigantic increase in depression and anxiety for American teenagers which began right around between 2011 and 2013.”Social psychologist and author Jonathan Haidt
“There has been a gigantic increase in depression and anxiety for American teenagers which began right around between 2011 and 2013,” Haidt said. “The number of teenage girls out of 100,000 in this country who were admitted to a hospital every year because they cut themselves or otherwise harmed themselves was pretty stable until around 2010 and 2011. Then the number began going way up. It’s up 62% for older teen girls, but it’s up 189% for preteen girls.”
“The Social Dilemma” serves as a way to educate viewers about how their brains are controlled by the “algorithm” that draws them in and makes them watch, buy or listen to certain things. It even molds users’ brains by showing them certain things to make them believe in false truths about the world. Additionally, it talks about how large companies tend to look past the privacy and very humanity of their customers, almost constantly selling their thoughts and technological history to advertisers in order to gain profits.
“This documentary was very eye opening,” CCHS junior Kiara Ryan said. “It made me realize the reasons as to why I am very addicted to my phone, and now I know that I have to spend much less time on it. I will try to resist the temptations that are placed in front of me that make me want to continue using certain apps.”
Orlowski does an outstanding job of describing the fate of social media users by outlining how helpless they are. They don’t even know how they are being manipulated into using these apps every day. Social media is like a drug to humans. They are completely unaware of the damage it does to their mental health.
“…the fact that our data is being collected without human supervision is a scary prospect.”CCHS senior Kaylynn Nguyen
“‘The Social Dilemma’ really displayed the inner workings of social media and how it is designed to keep us addicted,” CCHS senior Kaylynn Nguyen said. “I wasn’t really surprised that social media algorithms track our every move. However, the fact that our data is being collected without human supervision is a scary prospect.”
Despite the loads of insane information and expert testimonials, the one flaw of the documentary lied in the reenactments of social media in everyday life. Primarily, there was often a poor reenactment of a typical teenager affected by social media. It’s overdramatic and doesn’t truly depict what teenagers go through when it comes to the pressures of social media. Even with actor Skyler Gisondo, these parts of the film have an awkward feel to them when paired with more serious scenes.
Regardless of that one flaw, “The Social Dilemma” was immensely informative and everyone can learn a thing or two by watching it. The dangers of social media truly pose a ‘dilemma’ that this film urges to solve.
Photo courtesy of The Huffington Post UK
- Very informative.
- Great cast.
- Over dramatizes the impact of social media on an average teen.
- Did not have any thoughts on the issue from teens themselves.