“The Social Dilemma” Critique

Peyton Feldman, Writer

Peyton Feldman

Mrs Seltzer

Period 4

29 September 2020

 Around January of this year Netflix released a movie breaking down the analysis of social media along with a storyline of Social Media’s impact of an obsessed teen. Recently the movie has gained popularity. It addresses several drawbacks of social media through interviews with ex-Silicon Valley insiders for example those who worked at Google, Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook. The cast includes Tim Kendall, Jane Lanier, and Tristan Harris. 

One of the first issues the movie addresses is the business model of a plethora of big social media companies. This model tracks its users’ behavior to develop a psychological depiction of you in order to for you to become addicted. Big companies want this so they can build profit from the ads they are selling youCertain scenes in the movie present psychology classes taken place at Stanford Universitteaching students how technology is used to reprogram our own behaviors until we become addicted. Technology tricks the reward system in our brains to believe being on social sites is comforting. This releases dopamine neurotransmitters. It makes us feel happy, but it comes at an expense of being used as an escapism mechanism and taking a toll on the youths’ mental health as detected patterns have found that depression and suicide sky rocketing correlates with the uprising of social media. 

According to CNBC news “The [also] film touches on how tech companies have influenced elections [and] ethnic violence. The AI algorithms present vastly different results on for each individuals Social Media page based on their own bias beliefs this is partially the reason why people in this society are so divided and close minded. Instead of receiving the truth we are receiving misinformation fitting for our own perspectives. When told different views on controversial beliefs (for example political) it could possibly lead to disaster. Tim Kendall (former president of Pinterest and former Director of Monetization for Facebook) mentioned that “Instead of the information age we are becoming the misinformation age.” Interviewee Jane Lanier (Computer Scientist and Philosophy writer) warns people that this could “destroy our civilization.” 

My opinion of the movie is overall positive, although I didn’t get the best reputation from the trailer which appeared it was pin pointing children for going on social media instead of combatting what goes on behind the scenes with these tech giants. I believed at first, they were portraying my generation of being hopelessly addicted to our phonesI’m not going to lie I do go on my phone a lot but as soon as I am in an environment with other people, I like to give them my full attention and input unless I am uncomfortable. I enjoy, ponder, and value the time I spend with my friends so much to point I’ll push aside my responsibilities/work and as soon as I leave get instant waves and mood swings of loneliness, guilt, and not feeling like myself. 

The movie itself though did an amazing job addressing the issues with social media and added an element of hope which I liked! It wasn’t false hope either according to the Independent the movie’s website “thesocialdilemma.com offer[s] resources for parents, actions to help combat deception, and ways to sign up to Harris Centre for Humane Technology which aims to change the culture of the tech industry and encourage politicians to legislate.”