On January 26, Netflix released the documentary “The Social Dilemma.” This thought-provoking documentary with a drama woven in that discusses serious issues of how social media affects our daily lives in not-so-great ways. One of the topics the documentary touches on is how our news feed and Google search results are based on our location, what we Google, which news articles we click, which YouTube videos we watch, and more. Our apps are programmed to show only content that it thinks we will like and interact with. This is why apps like TikTok can be so difficult to get off of.
The world has long recognized the positive applications of social media. As of 2020, during a global pandemic, social media has become our lifeline to keep in touch with loved ones, as well as being an asset in mobilizing civil rights protests. However, the system that connects us also controls us invisibly. The lack of understanding of how these platforms actually operate has led to hidden and often harmful consequences. Over time, as The Social Dilemma suggests, these consequences can become an existential threat to society and humanity itself.
The Social Dilemma is a powerful exploration of the impact that a relatively small number of engineers in Silicon Valley have on the way we think, act, and live our lives. A quote that definitely made me rethink all the social media platforms I’ve ever used is, “If you are not paying for the product, you are the product.” This quote perfectly sums up how social media takes control of its users in ways we are not aware of. I recommend this film for anyone who is curious about the ways the media around us is affecting humanity daily.