We live in a world surrounded by social media platforms. The topics we bring up in our classes might have caught our eye on our feeds, or a radical statement that our President Tweeted the night before. The point is most of our generation is using some sort of media platform and most of us do not realize how detrimental they are to our mental health. This documentary allows tech experts to sound the alarm on the truth of it all.
The Social Dilemma features the voices of real researchers, activists, and technologists that are looking out for the same thing: Humanity. We all tweet, retweet, and like. The likes that we receive on our posts can affect our moods easily, but why? I find myself asking why a lot nowadays. Jonathan Haidt, an NYU professor and Social Psychologist, states that he has observed a “gigantic increase” in anxiety and depression among American pre-teen and teenage girls since 2011. I can’t help but think about my own experiences in middle school and the impact my social media platforms had on me. I was constantly comparing myself to the beautiful people I followed on Instagram, and that created crippling low self-esteem at a very young age.
Depending on where you live geographically, search engines will give different suggestions based on things like political leanings in the area, which only further divides our society. Say you follow liberal pages on social media, obviously you would get liberal posts and ideas, which isn’t a bad idea as a whole. The problem is that social media only shows you what they think you want to see and doesn’t show you the whole truth. In this way, social media can start to control your thoughts, and by extension, your actions. In a way, your thoughts are not actually yours anymore, which is dangerous.
The film shows multiple former employees and developers of these platforms, stating that they did not expect things to go this far. Their focus when creating these applications was to bring people together and create community, but in the end, created a huge mess that cannot be fixed easily.
There is so much to unpack in this movie that it’s hard to properly articulate it on paper. A good take away is that we all need to be cautious and careful about our use of and our relationship with social media. This is not to say that social media is completely bad and there is no good in it, but I think we could all benefit from time spent off our phones and talking to actual people.
If you are waiting in line, for food, or a movie, whatever, our first instinct is to take out our phones, and likely go through social media. We have this constant need to be distracted and social media continually provides that for us. Does this mean we are incapable of being alone with our own thoughts? Or just that we have been trained to not think at all and let technology take care of our lives.
At this crazy time in the world, we should all start paying more attention to the things that actually matter to us. If you had previously thought about any of this or even if you haven’t, I would highly suggest that you watch this movie.