The Social Dilemma is a 2020 American docudrama film directed by Jeff Orlowski. Social media is designed to promote addiction, alter opinions, emotions, and behavior, and disseminate conspiracy theories and misinformation. The video also looks at social media’s impact on mental health (including the mental health of adolescents and rising teen suicide rates).
A number of leading Internet businesses and social media platforms, including Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Mozilla, are interviewed in the video. These interviewees explore how such platforms have detrimental social, political, and cultural effects. Some respondents claim that social media and huge tech corporations have benefited society. The interviewees explore social media’s role in polarization and algorithmic advertising’s impact on political radicalization. In recent years, social media platforms have aided in the dissemination of fake news. In addition to the interviews, there is a fictional reenactment of a teen’s social media These dramatizations highlight the growing problem of online radicalization of youngsters.
Summary of The Social Dilemma:
The movie delves into the psychological underpinnings and manipulative tactics that, according to the film, are used by social media firms to enslave their users. According to the respondents, this frequently results in greater sadness as well as higher suicide rates among teenagers and young adults.
This is depicted in the dramatization by Orlowski through the employment of a cast of actors. Ben, a teenager (played by Skyler Gisondo), gradually falls prey to these deceptive methods and becomes enmeshed in a social media compulsion that grows worse.
In this episode, the perils of artificial intelligence and fake news are discussed. As Tristan Harris points out, this is an example of a “disinformation-for-profit business model,” and that firms earn more by enabling “unregulated communications to reach everyone for the best price.” In this context, Wikipedia is described as a neutral environment that provides all users with the same information without personalizing or monetizing it.
“Something needs to change,” the respondents said when it comes to artificial intelligence’s involvement in social media and the effect these platforms have on society.
Review: The Social Dilemma
Netflix has a documentary called The Social Dilemma that shows how social media and personalized online services have grown. They have a lot of power over each and every one of us, but they also do a lot of damage to society. This is very scary because it shows us both.
Truths are revealed even though the movie is a documentary. They’re shown through a fictional plot. Ben (Skyler Gisondo) is a teenager who is enchanted by an algorithm. We follow him as he learns about it (Vincent Kartheiser). His self-talk about giving up his phone can make us feel like we’re right there with him. Social media, on the other hand, is slowly luring him to the “Extreme Center.” His older sister, Kara Hayward, is worried about him.
But the story isn’t the main thing. The real messengers are Tim Kendall, who used to be the CEO of Pinterest and worked for Facebook as the Director of Monetization. Justin Rosenheimer, who came up with the “like” button, is also one of them. Personal, as well as frightening, are the personal stories these experts share. They range from people who helped make Google Drive to the author of “You are not a gadget.”
The fact that big social media and tech companies don’t give their services away for free isn’t a surprise to anyone. If you’re not paying for the product, then you’re “the product” in that case, too. In other words, they’re not just going to give away all of your personal information. In a video, the people who make the platforms say that they don’t really want to learn about you, but they want to change you. The goals are the little changes that happen inside of you that make you more likely to keep scrolling or buy something. This means that “We want you, mentally, to figure out how we can get you to do what we want.”
There are a lot of scary things, but the most frightening thing is not just the facts. People who made Facebook, Google, and other things are afraid. Some of them have since left their jobs. When even the people who helped build the platforms are worried, how can you not be? They know the platforms and their goals better than anyone else can.
After you watch The Social Dilemma, you might feel a little nauseous. This isn’t really fear, though. Sober: It’s a lot more important to think about what these huge tools of public manipulation could do to democracy In our society, there’s been a rise in polarization and the spread of false news quickly, without us even realizing what was going on. Worry about how much power a few powerful people have. They don’t get to vote for them.
It’s not a surprise to Jeff Orloski that non-fiction can be dramatic. In 2014, he won an award for his film Chasing Ice, which showed the terrifying effects of the climate crisis in a way that could be seen. Though he didn’t seem to be ready to let the power of facts and narrative speak for itself in The Social Dilemma, he did in the end. If you didn’t want to watch a traditional documentary at all, you could have used music, bass, and quick cuts to change how it looked. But instead of making things more intense, this forced dramatization made the testimonials less powerful. There is more power in the fact that a “like” is based on having withdrawal symptoms for the rest of the time than there is in loud music.
This book could have spent more time talking about how to solve the problem. Yes, it made me think about how I use social media. How does it make you feel? Is that the only thing that makes you happy? Is it possible that those feelings are the result of algorithm engineering? Finally, I’d like to recommend The Social Dilemma for anyone who wants to learn more about and question their own behavior.
There are many reasons why people should delete their social media accounts, but if I’m being honest, it doesn’t seem like enough to just give them ten. As long as start-ups and organizations are run on Facebook, this can’t, and won’t, be a good choice for everyone. The Social Dilemma shows that social media isn’t just a private thing. You have to think about politics when you talk about it If we live in a democracy, we should be the ones who decide how to use these powerful tools.
The Things You Should Learn From This Movie
- Social Media Platforms are Not a Tool
We see our social media channels as a way to stay in touch with friends and family. That, however, is not the case, according to Tristan Harris. A tool, he argues, is anything that sits calmly waiting to be used.
Consider a hammer in your toolkit. It doesn’t tap on the lid of the toolbox every couple of hours demanding to be used, luring us into using it when we haven’t used it in a while. It sits and waits. It’s about being patient. It’s only a tool.
It’s not a tool, despite what social media would have us believe. It annoys us by sending us notifications and emails on a regular basis. It entices and manipulates us. “It has its own aims and its own manner of attaining them by exploiting your psychology against you,” Harris writes in “The Social Dilemma.”
Our Attention is the Product
According to “The Social Dilemma,” many social media corporations prosper by collecting as much of our attention as possible and then selling it to the highest bidder. If you don’t pay for the goods, you are the product, as the adage goes.
Is this, then, a terrible thing?
It can be, according to Tim Wu, a Columbia Law School professor and author of The Attention Merchants. Tim Wu describes attention merchants as enterprises that sell access to people’s thoughts, according to a Vox interview. “The attention industry requires individuals who are always distracted, or who are permanently distractible, and so susceptible to advertising,” he argues.
Long-term, this, combined with other causes, has resulted in a “distraction disease” epidemic. You can’t focus and are continually losing your attention and time in this situation. According to Wu, the epidemic is “where you lose hours of the day clicking on meaningless nonsense.”
Have you ever picked up your phone with a certain purpose in mind, only to find an hour later than you’d spent the entire time reading around various social networking sites, entirely forgetting why you picked up your phone in the first place? That’s exactly what he’s referring to.
“Your life experience is what you choose to pay attention to,” Wu quotes American philosopher and psychologist William James in the piece. How can we be in charge of our lives if corporations are catching and manipulating our attention?
Addiction is Built into the Design of Social Networking Sites
Many social networks, according to “The Social Dilemma,” take advantage of human vulnerability by developing with “positive intermittent reinforcement” in mind.
One of the specialists interviewed in the video, Tristan Harris, a former Google design ethicist, compares it to a Vegas slot machine. When we check our phones for notifications, it’s like pressing the lever on a slot machine in the hopes of hitting the jackpot.
We have a hard time rejecting our screens due to the “Vegas effect,” according to Mike Brooks, Ph.D., in an article for Psychology Today. We continue to check and check and check because we periodically strike the jackpot, so to speak, when we check and there are alerts on our phone.
“It’s like opening a box of chocolates; you never know what you’ll receive.” Who made a Facebook post? Who left a remark on my blog? Just one more time, I’ll check my news stream… “This dopamine reward mechanism is engaged the minute our iPhones buzz or ring,” Brooks explains.
And it’s having a negative impact on our health.
Individuals who frequented a social networking site at least 58 times per week were 3x more likely to feel socially alienated and unhappy, according to research from California State University.