“If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.”
This intriguing documentary discusses the negative effects of social media such as suicide and depression, manipulation, addiction and increased spread of fake news.
“The Social Dilemma,” hit Netflix on Sept. 9. The documentary consists of interviews with many people who have worked inside the tech companies we all use in our daily lives. Some worked at Google, Pinterest, Twitter, Apple and Instagram.
Their eye-opening revelations left me stunned by how much of our data is being watched. These companies are able to tell aspects of our lives from our personalities, to how long we looked at a photo. They use this information to help better predict the user’s actions.
The documentary also had parts with actors. I thought this was a great addition because it portrayed the concept like a dystopian movie.
For example, there are three men in a control room scene where they manipulate everything that appears on the teenage boy’s phone. They notice when he is inactive and will purposely send a notification to grab his attention again. Because of advertising, the longer he looks at the phone, the more money the company makes.
This documentary has changed the way I view social media and my cell phone in general. We as a society have become hooked on these devices that display a false reality. Some studies have connected suicide, depression and anxiety to cell phone usage. By putting the phone down, we can become more present in the moment with our friends and family and more productive in our work life. Applications like TikTok, Instagram and Facebook are designed to be addictive, and that is why stepping away can be so hard to do.
After finishing “The Social Dilemma,” I went into my iPhone settings and turned off my notifications for all of my social media apps. I then logged out of my Instagram, avoided apps such as Facebook and Twitter, and ended my Snapchat streaks.
By doing this, I already feel happier and more productive. Social media is a great way to stay connected, especially now because of COVID-19 coronavirus regulations, but there comes a point where it does more harm to our social lives than good.
“The Social Dilemma” has an 89% Rotten Tomatoes rating and is an official selection for the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. The documentary is avaliable on Netflix. Students can get access a 30-day free trial of Netflix and or purchase the service monthly for $8.99.