Documentary Review: The Social Dilemma
Updated: Feb 10
Social media is addicting and easy to access: with a push of a button you can end up spending hours on it without even realizing. Ever wonder why scrolling for so long can make you happy in the moment but sad once you stop? Have you ever had an ad come up on your feed that's a little too specific? Netflix’s “The Social Dilemma” talks all about why this is and how the systems of social media are intentionally making you feel that way.
In this docudrama the long overdue conversation of really how detrimental social media is is explained by people who helped create those very platforms. In “The Social Dilemma” many of the engineers and early creators of social media describe how even though the intentions were good while making them, they have wildly misshapen and become terrible for people. When the “heart,” “thumbs up,” and “like” button were made, it was with the intention of spreading positivity and love to communities everywhere who meet through social media; fast forward to now and many times in our society if you don't receive enough “likes” or “hearts” on a post, you are left feeling empty. Chamath Palihapitiya, a former VP of growth at Facebook, said that because social media has become an everyday use , “A whole generation is more anxious, more fragile, (and) more depressed.” He presented a chart showing the U.S. suicide rates per 1,000,000 girls since the year social media became mobile, and the rate of suicides among girls ages 15–19 have gone up 70 percent and girls ages 10–14 have gone up 151 percent.
This may not affect you, and you might think you are too smart to let social media control you, but there are many more reasons why social media is toxic to everyone. It is discussed in the documentary how everything you do on social media is monitored: how long you spend looking at a post, what you engage with, whose profile you visit, and even what your relationships are. The early creators admit that this is almost completely out of their hands at this point. A supercomputer is assigned to you the moment you join a social media site and its purpose is to keep you scrolling for as long as possible. To insure that, the supercomputer saves everything you ever do, watch, who you message, and what you are tagged in. Eventually they will have collected enough data about exactly what you like and what will keep you engaged.
When you sign up for social media you probably sign up to connect with family and friends to watch funny videos, or get information; what you never signed up for are advertisements. Most social media platforms are free, so how do the companies make their money? The answer is simple: advertisements, but not in the way that you think. Often when we see an ad we just scroll right past it, but there's more than just that, and it is sickening to find out. Advertisers pay Instagram to give ads to us, and social media companies sell us to the advertisers; whatever is being shown to us is not the product, we are the product. Aza Raskin, the inventor of the infinite scroll, said “ Because advertisers pay for the products that we use, advertisers are the customers, we’re the thing being sold.” Your personal supercomputer not only sees what you watch and more, but they also negotiate with advertisement companies and whoever offers the best price gets to put an ad into your feed.
This information was hard to intake for me personally; it is eye opening to see how much social media companies are using us. I would 100 percent recommend watching this even though it seems intimidating or you think it does not pertain to you personally. It is almost scary to see what happens behind the screen but it is essential to know if you want to stay away from the toxicity and dangers that social media companies so eagerly want us to go through. I encourage everyone that uses or knows someone who uses social media to watch this.