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What to Watch: The Social Dilemma on Netflix

Last night I watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix and it wouldn’t be too exaggerating if I say, it is a modern-day horror film. This short documentary exposes the dark side of social media – how it disrupted our past, our today, and maybe even the future if the right steps aren’t taken at once.

the social dilemma on netflix

“Nothing vast enters the life of mortals without a curse.” – Sophocles

Directed by Orlowski, The Social Dilemma on Netflix interviews a group of former Silicon Valley engineers who were part of Google and popular social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest- most of them leaving their jobs due to ethical concerns. And what they have to say and not say is terrifying.

Take for instance when they are asked to summarize what exactly the problem with social media is and there is PIN-DROP SILENCE. “There is no one bad guy,” is all one of them can offer.

This past decade has seen a massive dependence on the internet- thanks to the different social media platforms. Be it Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram, we are all addicts and have found a cozy lil’ space for ourselves in this vast world of the web.

A day doesn’t begin without checking our phones first for notifications, scanning Instagram for drool-worthy pictures (of not just food!).

A point has come in our lives where we cannot live a day without the internet. While internet has been a boon for several reasons, the downside is definitely scary.

So, what is so scary about Social Media?

What is so spooky about social media platforms when it keeps us hooked on those harmless funny videos of a dog, a great brilliant recipe, or keeps us informed about our dear ones?

All social media platforms are based on algorithms. And as rightly said by Orlowski, “these algorithms control what we see, when we see it, how we see it, with no regard for the truth or for humanity.” Based on your search and what you share, these platforms show you things, all the while changing your behavior in such imperceptible and undetectable ways that one doesn’t even realize he is getting addicted to it.

Take, for example, the Facebook Like button or the Instagram Heart. While the idea of its invention was (or could be!) to ‘spread positivity’, how many of us have felt sad receiving only a handful of hearts in our latest Instagram post?!

Such absence of the presumed number of likes and views is what governs our lives these days- always worrying, affecting one’s self-worth and mental health. Not to mention the after-effects of social media like cyber-bullying, anxiety, and also, lack of sleep.

But most importantly, the question we should ask ourselves is how these giant platforms earn money. How much money are you paying for TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, or Twitter? I’m sure it is zilch. So, what is their business model like? Their sole aim is to keep us hooked onto the platform, our attention or the time we spent on their platform is what they use to their advantage. We are but mere pawns whose habits and behaviors are monitored and manipulated.

The Social Dilemma not only speaks about data privacy and surveillance capitalism, but it also covers fake news and political polarization.

What’s the Way Forward?

While deleting all social media apps is the best way to be, you and I know that it is but impossible, especially for content creators. But there are a few things that are in our hands.

  1. Understand the triggers and act upon it. Turn off those notifications. Check the amount of time you spend on social media every day. Put a restriction on it. After all, it’s your life and your time. Use it wisely, effectively, and productively.
  2. Make your friends and family, especially teenagers, aware of the consequences of social media. While we live in a monkey see, monkey do world, it is imperative to be aware of what and why a certain thing like social media controls most of our daily lives.
  3. Limit your children’s screen time.
  4. Do not take Twitter or Facebook as your primary authentic news source. Do your own research before picking sides.

Is The Social Dilemma on Netflix Worth the Watch?

Yes, for sure! In fact, leave everything and watch it right away!

There are scripted portions in the documentary but it does the job in showing us how invasive social media can be. There were moments where I caught hold of my breath like the one I mentioned before – pin drop silence when asked what exactly the problem with social media is and the idea behind the Facebook like button.

The documentary helps us understand how we are true slaves to our devices. It is time we take steps to come out of it and take a more productive route. First step? Turn off those notifications!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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