The Social Dilemma Delivers Important Message

Are you looking for something to watch on Netflix? Are the Netflix Originals just not
cutting it anymore? Are you tired of the same old Adam Sandler movies on repeat? If you’ve
responded “Yes” to any of these questions, I would like to recommend that you watch The
Social Dilemma on Netflix.

While I was scrolling through titles to watch, this Netflix original caught me by surprise.
This documentary has been receiving positive noise throughout the entertainment world, and it
is well deserved. The Social Dilemma talks about how much of a hold technology (specifically
smartphones and big-name tech companies) has come to have on us. As users, we have over
time incorporated our electronic devices into our lives. I don’t think that we questioned it or
even realized that it was happening. And yet today, you can’t go anywhere without
encountering people living their lives with their heads buried in their phones — on the trains, on
vacation and even in the crosswalks.

The movie is told from the perspective of former notable tech company high rankers,
including Tristan Harris (former Design Ethicist at Google; Co-Founder and CEO of Apture), Tim
Kendall (former Facebook executive and Pinterest President) and Sean Parker (former
Facebook President), to name a few. The reason that these employees decided to leave their
jobs at these big companies was because of the direction in which social media was going. The
former employees noticed how much of an effect these tech giants had on the world and were
not comfortable with the approach their former companies were taking over time.
In the show, they discuss the reality that our technology has been designed to intuitively
know what we like. To go one step further, these sites are able to predict what we will click on
or which things we will want to see more of and they gladly send it our way. For example, ads
and notifications on our phones are specifically catered to each individual user. Most times,
websites are funded by advertisers. Therefore, their goal is for people to see as many of their
ads as possible, by keeping them on their phones for as long as possible.

These experts divulge the alarming reality that if you are spending time on a website and you don’t see a
product, “You are the product.” Despite numerous denials by big-name companies, our phones
are designed to take and store our data and preferences. In fact, these systems were actually
set up to play into people’s weaknesses, making it as difficult as possible for us to put our
phones down. Using technology, whether it means scrolling through Instagram, Facebook or
Snapchat, has become almost addictive. We feel compelled to see the most recent posts, read
the up to the minute tweets and always be on the edge of the newest information.
These executives reflect on how much the industry practices and ethics have distorted
over time. As an example, they discuss how the “like” button” has changed in its use from the
way that it had been envisioned. Originally, Facebook created the “like” button as a means for
people to support each other; however, in reality, the “like” button has changed into being a way
for people, often teenagers, to judge each other and even themselves. The documentary even
shows a correlation between the widespread use of phones and social media, with escalating
tween and teen depression rates.

The Social Dilemma has shown the enormous impact social media has on our lives and
even introduces censorship and data collecting into the discussion. This documentary urges
viewers to become aware of how much of their lives they are actually spending on their phones.
Although I’m not usually a huge fan of documentaries, this one surprised me. I can’t
recommend this documentary enough for everyone to see. Watch this on your own and then
after you realize how informative it is, grab your family members and have them watch it too. I
believe that it will make you much more aware of the role that electronics are playing in your life.