The Social Dilemma, a Netflix documentary released in 2020, is a startling glance at how social media affects us as individuals and as the part of the society. According to some of the experts behind the creation of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and other popular social media platforms, social media can do good – but it also has the potential to unleash ruin on our lives and our planet.
What is ‘The Social Dilemma’?
‘The Social Dilemma’ talks about how our mind is being manipulated by the big tech companies whose only aim is to earn big profits. The documentary depicts social media’s evil side through fictionalized stories and real-life interviews with the technicians who designed and helped in the growth of these social media platforms.
Social media is hostile for all age groups; however, one of the most striking areas of the narrative is the one that addresses the vulnerability of teenagers who are getting moulded by the social media influences through platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and numerous others. This film segment highlights statistics on depression, anxiety, and even suicide rates related to social media. Other issues include cyberbullying, lower self-esteem, negative body image, social media addiction, and less time spent with family and friends doing real-world activities.
‘Social media is ripping apart society’
Social media is harmful to an individual, but it is also much more fatal for a country or our global society. There is no doubt that social media provides us with information, but with less credibility. It might prompt the spread of tainted and deluding content, spreading hatred and producing outrage among individuals.
We are so devoured by social media’s fun and trend that we fail to look at the bigger picture. And if we look at the bigger picture, it will show us the real truth behind this glitter. And that’s the documentary The Social Dilemma reveals.
After watching the documentary, one will come to know about some important facts and figures, which might compel him/ her to reduce the usage of social media.
So, here are some of the few things that we can learn from The Social Dilemma.
7 Lessons From The Social Dilemma
1. The constant surveillance
Whatever we do is being tracked, measured, and manipulated
Yes, you read it right. It seems creepy and shocking, but this is the truth.
The Social Dilemma tells us that companies like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and many others have their business model to get our attention to their app continuously. These websites also employ perfect algorithms — and getting better each day — at predicting what type of content will keep us engaged, and therefore, will keep you on the app as long as possible.
Chamath Palihapitiya, former Facebook VP of Growth.
“Once the app discovers what you’re interested in, it’ll keep showing you more images, links, and videos that further solidify your beliefs and opinions.” “We want to psychologically figure out how to manipulate you as fast as possible” and, then, give you back that (feel-good hormone) dopamine hit,”
2. Turning off the notifications
Notifications are the tools used to keep us glued to our mobile screens. Social media companies feed on our attention and the more we keep feeding it with our attention, the more it will take and leave us with nothing.
Once we disable the notifications, our desire to take a glance at the mobile screen can be reduced remarkably. Not only notifications but if we uninstall the social media applications and access them only using our desktop/ browser, it will help us in maintaining a proper distance from them. And that can also help us in reducing our usage as there won’t be any easy accessibility.
3. Reality is an illusion!
Social media platforms are an effortless and fun place to be updated. And we feel like we know what is happening in the world and around us, in our neighbour’s and friend’s lives. But remember all that glitters is not gold.
We rely on social media to such a large extent that whatever we see on it, we believe it’s real. But after watching The Social Dilemma, we can infer that this is not true, the reality is an illusion!
“Platforms like Facebook and Twitter don’t have the foggiest idea about what is right and what is not.” “These platforms have no incentive to cease the wildfire-like spread of false information — because fake news tends to get more engagement than the real story.” “As per an MIT study, false news travels at a rate six times faster than actual journalism.”Tristan Harris in The Social Dilemma
4. Filter your social media feeds
Whatever we do on social media continuously being watched, tracked, and analyzed by technicians who are being hired only to do this. There is no big surprise why we continue seeing ads for the items we just looked on google or just talked with someone.
All this is exceptionally larger than we can even envision, and we are just pawns to big tech companies who use our data to manipulate us and keep us locked in. Can you imagine these companies are paid by the advertiser to keep us engaged and collect our data to drive us further? How cool is that? not all that cool since it costs us our lives.
5. Damaging our mental well-being
One of the significant impacts of social media is on our mental well-being and our ability to make rational decisions. Being on social media means that our brain’s psychology is continuously exposed to a life that may not be real. Still, we accept it as accurately as it is on social media, but it may not be in reality.
“There has been a gigantic increase in depressions and anxiety for American teenagers.” “A whole generation is more anxious. “Social media starts to dig deeper and deeper down into the brain stem and take over kids sense of self-worth and identities, more fragile, more depressed.”Jonathan Haidt, Social Psychologist
Our brain got into a spiral of such content, and an individual, especially children, and teenagers try to fit into that life. They began to compare themselves with models and influencers on social media and try to look like them and may end up hating themselves, their bodies, and lower self-esteem.
6. Barrier in relationships and growing isolation
Being on social media makes us create a world of our own. A world that we create through continuous scrolling and seeing updates from our friends. But are we updated about our friends and family, or are we just pretending to be updated? Think about this.
The social dilemma shows us that Social media is more than addictive. It’s harmful in the long run and not only to us but to our families, our friendships, and other relationships. This can be easily observed in any restaurant, everyone is busy scrolling their smartphones and updating status.
7. Social media is designed to be addictive
One of the striking facts that we can understand from The Social Dilemma is that it is designed to be addictive. We have a constant urge to connect with people, and a vehicle like social media fulfils that urge. Even many of the experts who were involved in the development and growth of this technology are addicted to it.
Neuroscientists compare social media to the syringe of dopamine being injected into the human system. The constant flow of re-tweets, tagging, and posting keeps targeting our brain’s reward area and releases chemicals and hormones, making keep scrolling.
“I am most prone to twitter, used to be Reddit’’ “I had to write software to break my addiction to read Reddit.”Co-founder of the Humane center for technology and former employee of Firefox and Mozilla labs
We must be aware of this very popular statement- ‘If You’re Not Paying For It, You Become The Product’.
We all should understand that it is the right time for us to figure out how these social media platforms function. And how we can use these platforms cautiously without causing any mental or psychological distress on our ourselves.
Improper and over-use of social media is very expensive and can cost us our attention, relationship, health, and more, importantly, even our life.