Words Maria P. // Header Credits Amena T.
‘The Social Dilemma’ is a docu-drama that offers a stunningly eye-opening look into the dark world of social media, and breaks down how social networking companies take advantage of users.
Throughout the course of the film there were multiple times when I wanted to delete all my social media accounts, and throw my phone out the window. Although that is considerably dramatic, when you have tech specialists confessing that big companies like Facebook and Google don’t really have a full understanding of the digital footprint they are creating and the technologies they have built, it is pretty terrifying. Something that struck me the most and continues to be something that terrifies me was the idea that social media addiction isn’t an unintended or unforeseen consequence but is actually a well-thought-out, planned objective!
Turning off my social media notifications is truthfully something I did after watching the docu-drama. This was specifically because I realized how notifications have become a tool to increase activity and keep us unnecessarily engaged. Picking up my phone as soon as I heard a ping had almost become second nature. And while I don’t deny the fact that I may be still picking up my phone one too many times a day, I do genuinely find that the amount of times in a day I have found myself mindlessly scrolling has decreased.
The fact that algorithms know everything there is to know about us, while we know next to nothing about them, is something that was advertently touched upon in the film. Therefore, turning off auto-suggestions is something that I am trying to get into the habit of. Specifically on YouTube where the algorithm selects the next video based on what it thinks l will like, leading to hours and hours of time being unnecessarily spent on the internet. Although I will admit, after turning off auto-recommendations, my YouTube home has become a little dry but at least it is satisfying to know that I attempted to stop the algorithms from dictating my thoughts and opinions.
Along with this, ‘The Social Dilemma’ briefly spoke about how algorithms aid the spread of misinformation. In a world filled with conspiracy theories, I feel like fact-checking the information I come across is so incredibly important before I like/share and subscribe. This is something I try to actively work on because I believe that just because it’s on the internet doesn’t mean it’s true.
The Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal is something that has picked up a lot of media attention and allowed us to believe that all these big tech companies are after our data. However, ‘The Social Dilemma’ made me realize that more than our data, companies are hungry for our attention because at the end of the day if you’re not paying for the product, then you are the product. So to what and where I divert my attention on the internet is something I’m trying to be more mindful about.
Additionally, I found that deleting my social media accounts was not a solution. This is because when I tried to absolutely cut it off for 4 days, I found that it created an unhealthy craving leaving me constantly tempted to reinstall the apps. Thanks to this, I quickly realised that moderation is key and so I try, as hard as I can, to limit my usage to about an hour a day. In all honesty, I haven’t been able to do that every single day but I am proud to say that on most days I am able to stop myself from scrolling before the reminder pops up telling me to stop.
‘The Social Dilemma’ can be a bit of a terrifying watch, especially for someone like me, who doesn’t fully understand the social media space and is almost in denial of the fact that something I spend so much of my time on is what is harming me. I can only hope that ‘The Social Dilemma’ gets us all talking and thinking about the real problems before algorithms end us all.