The Social Dilemma is a Netflix documentary that delves deep into the detrimental side of popular social media sites. Technology has come a long way since the last two decades. We would not have imagined that the phrase ‘sharing photos’ would mean posting them on a social media feed or sending them digitally. And yet, here we are.
With the advent and subsequent adoption of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter by a majority of internet users around the world, we have realised that interacting with friends, family and even total strangers can be fun and fulfilling, but it does come at a cost.
It is not trolls who are the real villains, according to this documentary film. While they do abuse and disparage while hiding behind anonymity, it is the social media sites themselves that enable this behaviour. Not just that, they also affect our real-lives without us realising it.
People confuse ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ with real value and social media presence with a real personality. While social media interactions can be meaningful sometimes, they are ultimately no replacement for face-to-face conversation.
If what happened on social media stayed there, this would not be such a big problem. The interviews of whistleblowers who have worked at these social media behemoths lend credibility to the documentary.
Add to that, sites like Facebook may have had a significant effect on the United States presidential election of 2016. These sites are accused of deepening our biases, whatever they are, by manipulating our feeds and deciding what we see. If you support A party for example and regularly ‘like’ or ‘share’ content favourable to that party, you will scarcely find anything contrary and or anything that challenges your worldview.
Jeff Orlowski has directed The Social Dilemma. It comes out on September 9.
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