The Social Dilemma was not what I expected. Therefore, I put off watching it because I thought I knew what it was going to be about – how social media harvests and controls our populations. It is, however, much more.

How do you wake up from the Matrix when you don’t know you’re in the Matrix? – Tristan Harris, Google, Former Design Ethicist

It’s everyday and yet extraordinarily talented folks who work (or have worked) in Big Tech sharing just how far the rabbit hole goes. It’s also accompanied by a fictional story of a family, mainly the teens and how they use social media, and how it makes them feel. It’s a must-watch Netflix documentary.

The wikipedia link

Since I work with teens + young adults and grew up before all of this, I’ve read, watched, and written about about social media. I felt confident that I understood the ‘slot machine’ psychology = dopamine reward business model of Facebook and Instagram. But I believed that by knowing I was being manipulated, I was somewhat immune to its persuasive powers.

After all, if you know you’re being scammed on the cost of something, is it ‘okay’ because you’re aware of it? Or am I fooling myself into thinking that if I double-bag the kimchi it won’t stink up the fridge? In other words, is an awareness of a problem enough to counteract it? [In the case of the kimchi, the answer is no. I’ve got an open bag of baking soda in there too, damn it.]

What I didn’t know was if you Google ‘climate change is…’, for example, the auto-fill form will give you different answers depending on where you live in the world. Jaron Lanier gave the example of what if Wikipedia did this? The news already gives us different definitions depending on whether you are left or right leaning, but I didn’t know Internet searches did this as well.

Their website has a call to action button – check it out.

We begin to understand why democratic nations like the US and the UK are more politically polarized than ever before. We often hear and think ‘How can these people believe that?’ and now we know that “confirmation echo bias chambers” aren’t simply responses to who we choose to be friends with on FB, it’s AI catering information based on region, likes, dislikes, and god-knows what else data they have collected on us.

We’ve created a system that biases towards false information. Not because we want to, but because false information makes the companies more money than the truth. The truth is boring. – Sandy Parakilas, Facebook, Former Operations Manager

We no longer disagree, we take sides. We dehumanize people we’ve never met or pretend to know. And this has become normal. I think it’s time to put down our weapons and realize we’ve become the weapons and stop underestimating the pull and power of the information we consume everyday.

I’m grateful that I watched this before the US Elections. It’s been a medicinal balm, that wider perspective which is allowing me to use my brain instead of my emotions. [No small feat!] It’s also made me pause, as in, what makes me think I’m not being hacked? Why do I believe I’m out of the Matrix?

For me one of the biggest issues we face as individuals is not that we aren’t aware of Big Tech’s censorship, influence, and leading hand, it’s that we are in denial that we somehow don’t fall prey to the reprogramming.

The way to think about it is as 2.5 billion Truman Shows. Each person has their own reality with their own facts. Over time you have the false sense that everyone agrees with you because everyone in your news feed sounds just like you. Once you’re in that state, it turns out you’re easily manipulated. – Roger McNamee, Early investor venture capitalist in Facebook‍

When we were making the like button, our entire motivation was ‘can we spread positivity and love in the world?’ The idea that fast forward to today and teens would be getting depressed when they don’t have enough likes or it could be leading to political polarisation was nowhere on our radar. – Justin Rosenstein, former engineer at Facebook and Google, co-founder of Asana‍

Ironically, we are fast losing our individual voices as we have become mouthpieces to the latest social trends. And since it’s harder to know the truth, we’ve simplified our worldview in an effort to contain and understand the vast wealth of information we are overwhelmed by.

The Social Dilemma is not just about privacy issues, how Big Data is crushing our children, but about how our attention is being diverted and invested for the greater division of humankind – for profit. Watch until the end, and take back control of your time and your mind.


🖖 Film Fridays is hosted by the good people Sarah and Darren. Just hashtag your post to be part of this fun club.


Have you seen The Social Dilemma?

35 replies on “Film Fridays – The Social Dilemma

  1. oohh. i have yet to watch this, but want to watch this. i’ll have to look more into it.

    what about people who aren’t on social media? do they fall into this trap too? they do right, just by using google search as you mention?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Good question. I suppose it depends on whether or not they are reading current events and where they read from. And yes, if search engines are biased then that’s troubling.

      Trust me, I’m no expert. But I’m going to try to stop pretending that I’m not being influenced by algorithms. Although I do try to not use Google as a search engine. I have different ones on different devices and browsers but not sure if that makes a difference!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My daughter wants me to watch it, but I don’t have Netflix. We live in this age, though. These are bound to be the kinds of things that influence us. My eleven-year-old grandson is fated to be influenced by video games that I never saw when I was his age.

    I’m not a big follower, but I know I can be influenced. I was influenced by living with my mom. Being around her, got me interested in art and fashion. My fashion interest has worn off, but it will always be there. I went to Jesuit university. That influenced my thinking.

    As far as advertisements are concerned, they’re more tempting now since I can’t go shopping because of the pandemic. When I’ve bought something on line, though, I’m usually disappointed. So the ads have stopped looking so tempting.

    I admit that I’m happy when Google finds something for me that I’ve looked for previously. Maybe the movie would convince me that I should be more worried, but I’m not eager to watch it. I’m satisfied with the way I am.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, there’s some honest reflection there, Nicki. If you do decide to give it a try, Netflix usually offers the first month for free as a trail. I did it ages ago and never continued. Then I did it again for free with another email acct and decided the small amt was worth it, esp since I’m not in my home country.

      For sure, we are influenced by many things. I find what influences us, in general, very interesting. Social media and the Internet is a different ball game, so to speak, and for me it isn’t about fear-mongering or ramping up paranoia as much as keeping informed as to how the rules of the game are changing.

      Like

  3. I’ve heard so much about the movie but haven’t been able to get myself to watch it since I’ve been steering clear of any serious movies/TV shows. But I think I’m going to try watching The Social Dilemma this weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally understand. Most of my Film Fridays have been on the lighthearted side and I avoid dramas and thrillers too. (At least that has been my mood.)

      But I’m glad I watched it as it’s only 1.5 hrs and I feel like its something everyone should watch (and I don’t say that about anything!).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think I was most freaked out during the part when one of the people talked about the Myanmar, where many new smart phone buyers don’t know how to get onto the internet. So the salesperson at the shop loads Facebook onto the phone for them and then Facebook is the person’s only online access. And then the government spews all kinds of propaganda on Facebook and…boom.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, good point. Many pcs come pre-loaded with software here in Thailand. Line is a popular app like China’s WeChat or What’sUp and it’s considered a given that you want it on your computer.

        To piggyback on what you said, I’m deeply concerned about how the media is using social and the Internet to get their messages across.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve watched half of it and will be done watching it this weekend. I’ll be back again to discuss about it soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I haven’t watched The Social Dilemma yet, and not sure if I will. I don’t even remember the last time I watched a film or TV series lol. But I have seen the trailer and have heard people talking about it. I do think social media is one big distraction and somewhere on every platform we’re always being fed things to buy or facilitating certain ways of thought. It’s these reasons I have spent much less time on social media and post much less.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah, but I think it’s seductive to feel like by using something less then we have more control because information is now being controlled, even searches are being catered to your interests – so that’s what alarmed me. I mean, we all use the Internet and want to ‘be informed’ but what what is it we are being told?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, searches are being controlled. I read about that a few years ago – if I search for a phrase, and you search for it, we’ll both get different results even in Incognito mode. If you’re in a certain country you might also get searches of a certain bias. I tend to remember my searches, and often what I search for later comes up on ads in my Facebook and Instagram :/

        Liked by 1 person

  6. So glad you joined the Film Friday again, Lani! 😀
    I haven’t heard of this before but it’s definitely my kind of documentary!! Oh my, that’s so worrying that search engines are being designed to your taste, country etc. I didn’t know and neither suspected it. Damn! Also was a believer that knowing about the algorithms I was less susceptible to social media and its sometimes bad influence but I guess that was also quiet naïve. 🤔 At least I manage to put the phone down for a day or two without going berserk – that’s got to be good for something, right? (At least I’m saving on my batter. 😂)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’ve got a good attitude and an open mind 🙂 about this. As I have to admit, I’ve been surprised that some ppl’s reaction is to lean away from it.

      The search engine bit was definitely the most alarming part for me while the rest of it felt familiar territory but no less frightening.

      So I’m doubling down in becoming hyper-conscious of what I consume and how I do it. But it’s a process, and I hope to stay in formed through their website. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s always good to know you enemy I think, even if we shouldn’t watch the internet etc as our enemy, but I think you know what I mean. It can’t hurt to be informed and leaning away from knowing about this stuff doesn’t seem to be the right way to handle it.
        Do you have other search engines you can recommend?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. DuckDuck Go actually has a grading system based on what site you are using. For example, YouTube and Gmail get a ‘D’ privacy grade whereas Wikipedia a ‘B+’.

        https://duckduckgo.com/

        I also have Brave on one of my phones. They block ads!

        https://brave.com/

        There are also eco-browsers that plant trees or do some other good deed every time you search. The one I was using Eroku is no longer running but you can find other ones out there. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Yes agree with your observations. The rot goes a little deeper than I thought too — it really does divide people more than connect, bizarrely. Everyone should watch this doco.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes to Jonathan Haidt. I’ve listening to a couple of podcasts with him and I’ll be curious to learn what you discover/think with his latest book!

        Like

  8. Very interesting review. This has been on my watch list and am now looking forward more to seeing it. Your example on polarized nations makes a lot of sense. What people consume sure plays a big role in it. But how can social media be moderated if the internet is free?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, right now it’s not be moderated, there are no rules as to what they can and cannot do and that’s a problem. I don’t claim to have the answers. The movie touches upon it and they also have a podcast called Your Undivided Attention.

      Like

    1. When the time is right, don’t be afraid. It can be empowering to know what’s up and what you can do about it personally. xo

      Like

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