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The Social Dilemma: A Brief Review


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Considering the growing rate at which digital advancements have been evolving across the globe, one does not require immense knowledge or research to comprehend the level of addiction social media has been causing to us since the very beginning. Jeff Orlowski’s new Netflix docu- drama The Social Dilemma explores all the negative repercussions social media has upon the society along with the process through which it gets addictive in a gradual and eventual manner; the methodologies to do the same, and how we tend to stay blissfully unaware of these facts while a bunch of engineers keep controlling us with the help of technology through manipulation of human vulnerability.

Social media has evolved to be one of the most gigantic products of technology that keeps every human being busy throughout the whole day through the use of apps like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Google. The primary way they use to keep us engaged all day is simply by using push notifications, recommendations and random suggestions which we can hardly avoid for most of us tend to suffer from the fear of missing out on important things in our lives. According to the app makers who appeared in the documentary to shed light upon the origin of social media, manipulation of the human mind is the very root of today's immense engagement of man and these applications. They had also stated that they themselves now regret their creation as they are likely to affect the psychological condition of human beings.

It is mostly a documentary which contains short clips of interviews of several tech experts such as Tim Kdendall, former president of Pinterest; Jaron Lanier, author of Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now; Tristan Harris, co-founder of Google. The film also seems to present a fictional story of a suburban family whose members constantly suffer from their addiction towards social media. This particular move has helped the production immensely to make it relatable. Harris has put forth the three major plans that the whole social networking business is based upon: The engagement goal which keeps you scrolling; the growth goal which makes you keep coming back and the advertising goal which makes money.

Political polarisation that is being caused by social media is one of the most important topics to have been covered by the movie apart from the addiction issue. This production goes on to show how social media’s algorithm works in a certain way which makes it possible for them to make profit from anything and everything we do online. Predictability is their main tool which is used through technology to go about manipulating and controlling human beings.

The constant need to feel validated has been growing with each passing day due to the excessive use of social media. Unless and until some random stranger makes us feel good with their likes and comments, we tend to feel down and this is something which has a long-term negative impact upon mental health. Social media has been shown as a breeding ground of psychological issues that tend to take over teenagers and adults from time to time. Another negative issue that social media has inflicted upon us is the practice of spreading disinformation and fake news which tends to spread six times faster than real news. It has several long term consequences and plays a huge role in the divisional occurrences in the society. This is also an issue which does not seem to have any proper solution in the near future.

The Social Dilemma seems to be nothing less than a horror production, whose sole purpose is to shake you up, make you think twice before you press the click button and make you vulnerable. The main objective of this particular production is to make users aware of the surveillance capitalist companies such as Facebook, YouTube, and the like. However, where the movie fails is in its manipulation of showing how the surveillance capitalism works through the collective exploitation of human vulnerabilities and weaknesses. Therefore, Orlowski’s major motive of keeping it informative and relatable has been fulfilled. Nonetheless, the fabrication and exaggeration of real life facts that have been conducted by the show makers is a major fact that should not be overlooked.