The Social Dilemma: beyond the screen

Breanna Medel, Staff Writer

The Social Dilemma, a new Netflix documentary directed by Jeff Orlowski, views the ways social media has a manipulating and addicting dark side to it and the strategies that these platforms use to keep us drawn in; and it’s not unintentional.

In The Social Dilemma, former employees of social media platforms explain that the manipulation and the addicting side of social media is not an accident waiting to happen, but instead a purposeful social networking feature. The platforms and creators claim that the manipulation is just a human concept. In reality, it is the way that these big apps make a profit off of the notifications, the constant scrolling, and the personalized recommendations that have us all hooked to the internet.

Anne Lembke, an expert of addiction at Stanford University, explains that these big social media platforms feed the brain’s need for personal and interpersonal connections: our brains require some type of connections to other people. Through the film, we’re able to explore how social media exploits this need for connection for economic gain.

The Social Dilemma introduces facts that some people may already know, but they go the extra step by using real people to display the issue. As an example, a fictional modern day family was created. They struggle with social media addiction in order to show the consequences it causes.When the documentary introduces the aforementioned family, the audience sees the silent dinners, the teenage daughter who suffers with social media addiction and is constantly checking her phone, the teenage son that is obsessed with scrolling on his feed and checking others’ profiles. Certain broad spectrum issues like critiquing self image are displayed as well.

How many hours we spend on social media, how many ads you view while scrolling through your phone, how many interactions you have with people online – they all create profit for social media and tech companies.

The Social Dilemma proves that our minds are being twisted by social media from the way we think we should look to the way we look at ourselves. The media today has put standards into our heads, telling us how we should look, the way we should talk, and even the way we should think.

Not everyone in The Social Dilemma believes that social media is a bad concept and that things could never get better either. Some believe that with better strategies and the right changes made to platforms, social media will one day become a bright place to be rather than a place of darkness and manipulation.

Overall, The Social Dilemma is a remarkable documentary that could lead to big changes into these big social media companies, as people can now know what is happening behind the scenes of our screens. This documentary is a mind changing movement and it is most definitely a must-watch.