“The Social Dilemma” A Journey into the truth about Social Media:  A Review

“The Social Dilemma” A Journey into the truth about Social Media:  A Review

Lucy Schaefer

In our world today, the primary means of communication is through online platforms. Over the last decade, social media has expanded rapidly with new technologies, and as a result, many people,  especially teenagers, use these services to their advantage. But is it really an advantage? 

The Social Dilemma, a 2020 Netflix documentary, dives deep into the dark truth behind social media and the true intentions of the creators and companies behind apps such as Snapchat and Instagram. The storyline includes numerous credible sources who speak about their experiences working at social media companies. It also follows many teens who are attached to their phones, and it aims to discover the effects of and the truth about the methods that creators use to that manipulate their users. Except, they aren’t called users.

They are called customers. The famous saying goes If you’re not paying for the product, then you are the product. If you are using these apps, you are earning these companies money just by staying on the app. Therefore, keeping you on the app is every media creator’s intention as it helps grow their company. Tristan Harris, a Former Design Ethicist for Google and co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology, notes “What [people] don’t realize is [these apps are] competing for your attention… their business model is to keep people engaged on the screen.”

A fact:  You have no control over your social media accounts. Apps like TikTok take data, such as what kind of posts you look at and how long you look at them and they store it. They then use that data to predict what kinds of things you’re interested in, put that content on your “For You” page, and that makes you stay on the application for longer. Creators don’t care about the person behind the screen or what kinds of problems they are dealing with as a result of these apps. All they care about is how much money they are making off of your attention to their creation. 

Overall, The Social Dilemma film is one that I encourage each and every teenager to watch to order to become informed about what is really happening behind the scenes. Not only has social media had negative effects on individuals, but also school communities and possibly the entire country. The spread of fake news promotes separation, and interviewees believe that the consequences could be fatal, including “civil war” and “a threat to democracy.” After watching The Social Dilemma, I believe that everyone should want to be informed about the truth. Because technology is going to continue to grow, and according to Harris, “We have to fix this problem.”