An alarming documentary dared to be directed by Jeff Orlowski is worth every second. The social dilemma makes you doubt your identity and every choice you made which may or may not be the production of your thoughts. It’s horrifying but true that everyone who watched this documentary feels exposed or vulnerable. It was released just a week ago, on the popular streaming platform Netflix. The documentary bombards us with nerve-wracking truth and quickly grabbed a seat in our recommendations.
Filled up to edge with an interesting narrative, the documentary “The Social Dilemma” will not let you blink. Simultaneously with the interviews, a storyline is framed, which is true for most households. The kids suffer from addiction, hate comments, mental health problems, and fake news. How phones hamper our personal relationships is what to be frowned at. The narrative has interviews, story, graphics, voice-over, behind the scenes shots, and a lot of self-questioning. This sums up to a well-scripted documentary, which has to be on your watch list.
Ironically, the documentary targeting social media giants, educating us about algorithms is recommended by this system. Netflix says that The Social Dilemma is Investigative and Proactive, which is sadly undeniable. The bubble of security is burst and our every click, like, comment and share are carefully studied, monitored, and then analyzed. They earn profits on every ad we see our screen time drives this multi-dollar industry. We are not paying to use social media; advertisers are and that’s why they constantly demand our attention. We are a product that is exploited. They design a model that resembles us and with each day learn day gets better at it. This is the power of AI.
Our actions are no longer ours and we live in a fantasy that we choose what to see or whatnot. The truth is that our every move is predicted to serve much larger propaganda. We knowingly tick the allow permissions clause and serve our data to these giants garnished with ignorance. It’s disturbing to a extend that we even want to shut our phones off forever only to restart it after 5 mins.
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HATE COMMENTS OR LOVE COMMENTS
We are accustomed to using social media whenever we feel uncomfortable, lonely, or happy that the documentary isn’t scary than the idea of cutting off from the social media platform.
Maybe we carve for validation, which is quick yet short-lived, offered by the like button, emojis, and the favorable compilation of the 26 letters. The extent to which we demand appreciation is less daunting than the result of not getting it. We see ourselves from the lens of our camera and experience a dopamine rush on being validated. In the social dilemma, Horrifying statistics show that there has been an exponential rise in the matters of anxiety and depression in pre-teen girls. The suicide numbers are also increasing at an unimaginable rate. Mental health is suffering the most due to our aimless scrolling. A speaker talks about the Snapchat Dysmorphia in which the user’s desire to look like Snapchat filters rises like COVID cases in our country. In case you doubt, it’s a real thing.
THE PROPAGANDA AND DISINFORMATION ERA
We have reached an age where nothing on the internet remains on the internet. It influences real-life behaviors. The growing cases of Internet lynch mob are one such example. As a speaker points out, we are moving from the information to disinformation. Fake news has created trust issues and its nothing to laughed on. We are even motivated to vote for a specific person using these social media tools. The famous example of Russia influencing US elections can be considered a digital war. It’s horrifying to note that the tools are making people kill others and themselves. We think what we see as a search result is uniform, however, it changes from location and depends on our prejudices predicted by the AI. What you see serves your beliefs and very conflicting explanation is discarded which creates an ignorant society. The documentary accurately shows the case of Rohingya Muslims which led to a massacre in Myanmar. There is clear proof of state propaganda ignited by social media.
UNZIP THE CONCEPT OF ETHICAL DESIGN
The documentary “The social dilemma” features former employees of the social media houses who worked for years in that system. Some of them were Justin Rosenstein, a former engineer with Google and Facebook; Tim Kendall, former VP Pinterest; Sandy Parakilas, former operations manager Facebook, and Jaron Lanier, writer of Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now and many more. Their experience has one thing in common that the early motive of these platforms was not to harm the people. The like button was designed to spread love and positivity yet today we see people facing anxiety on getting fewer likes. The competition among them to get the most activity of users on their platforms has shaped the current scenario.
Former Google Design Enthusiast, Tristan Harris has a prominent voice in the documentary. He is famous as President and co-founder of The Center for Humane Technology which unveils the concept of ethical design. Tristan explains the unpopular word Persuasive technology, in his own words It is just a sort of design intentionally applied to the extreme where we want to modify someone’s behavior.
Addressing the seriousness of the issue, Tristan promotes the idea of design considering the ethical values. The design should not harm people and if it does, it’s not ethical. He ponders on the issue of addiction, polarization, and data mining.
When some technology creates chaos, trust issues, loneliness, manipulation, induce killing, affect elections, promotes distraction then something has to be wrong with the system.
Where every minor thing is regulated, digital platforms enjoy self-regulation, and this makes the social media houses rule the humankind or in Tristan’s words “Checkmate humanity”.
The former employees offer simple yet difficult to implement solutions. They don’t allow their children to use social media before high school. Secondly, they advise to not see what’s in the recommendations. We must choose ourselves. Then people should turn off their notifications to decide when they want to use their phones and not when it pings. An uncommon idea is to follow people who have contradictory opinions as it exposes people to all point of views. This solves the issue of selective exposure. Do not take phones with you to the bedroom at night, decide on a time. Next is to check the source of any information you receive, its worth the extra time. Delete all the social media apps. Even if you have heard it a thousand times, it tops the list as per the interviewees.
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