The Social Dilemma, thoughts

A review on Netflix documentary about social media and technology

[Spoiler alert: “Don’t read until you’ve watched the documentary]

illustration from London-based illustrator and designer Matt Blease

Intro

“We tweet, we like, and we share — but what are the consequences of our growing dependence on social media? As digital platforms increasingly become a lifeline to stay connected, Silicon Valley insiders reveal how social media is reprogramming civilization by exposing what’s hiding on the other side of your screen”.

So you have probably seen this documentary from people who previously worked at Google, Facebook, Twiter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube and similar companies.

Problem

Mainly the main argument about the film could be ‘Social Media as we know it, is destroying our lives, they way we relate and behave’.

From here they have some initial questions about it, questions we all should do to ourselves:

  • Is this normal?
  • Can we do something about it?
  • What are you addicted to?
  • Who owns the truth?

While presenting, they do it with a mix of news, science, confessions, history… and series looking like Black Mirror (honestly we all have seen Black Mirror, imho this does not contribute much instead more science and research would be better).

Tracking and Data goals

Next step of the film is about tracking: Everything is tracked. What do they do with Data? They build models, so the best model wins. A model can predict everything: emotions, likes, shares, etc. The goals are three: Engagement, Growth and Advertising

All these techniques hack people psychology as a tool of manipulation, persuasion and addiction. Algorithms are commercial.

Jaron Lanier

I had seen some videos as this one posted

In the documentary he makes a good example on wikipedia example. And in his book, Lanier — Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now ask you if you are a cat or a dog. I´m sorry for dog lovers, but cats have freedom.

He also has this ten commandments against and about Social Media: You loose your freedom, social media is insane, makes you an asshole, it undermines the truth, makes you meaningless, destroys your empathy, makes you unhappy, doesn´t want you to have economic dignity, makes politics impossible, and Social Media hates your soul.

So as he says: Unplug and run!

Software as a drug

Really like this idea, we all have seen this in teenagers (or older). Works similar to gaming addiction, actually we have points as likes, contacts, views or whatever.

Social impact

There are some good examples of tech influence in society, some good case studies shown as Flat earth, pizzagate, Covid myths, Bolsonaro, Facebook russian hack. Also I miss something about China and their cameras with social approve (could be a nice case study). All this leads to culture wars, Twitter hate, populism, etc. We´ve seen many of them in the last years.

Solution

There are some critics against the film because it does not provide solutions. I don´t think so. It makes the question about how to heel from all this, and talks about antitrust laws and business models. Maybe utopic solutions, don´t know, Jeff Orlowski, ‘The Social Dilemma’ Director Says The Internet Is Undermining Democracy”.

More documentaries as the Social Dilemma

More Critics

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