The Social Dilemma (2020) – Review

The Social Dilemma is a documentary+drama film co-written and directed by Jeff Orlowski. The film explores the depth of how social media/networking’s design is meant to nourish an addiction, its manipulative use in politics, and how it is misused to spread propaganda and conspiracy theories, and aid groups such as flat-earthers. The film also examines the serious issue of social media/networking’s effect on mental health. The film is available on Netflix for streaming.

The documentary starts with a handful of interviewees, each stating the companies they had previously worked for and left their respective jobs due to varying ethical concerns. It focuses on companies including but not limited to Google, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Later, it explores the effect these companies have on the public; it is emphasized that a relatively small number of architects and engineers make decisions that impact billions of people. Jeff Orlowski designed the film to include conversations that tackle concepts in technology such as data mining, technology addiction, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and surveillance capitalism.

There are numerous advantages of Social Networking such as connectivity to other people all over the world, instant communication, real-time news, information sharing, etc. Despite these advantages, we cannot overlook its diverse effects on people who use it daily. Throughout its runtime, the film takes an eye-opening look into the way social media is designed to create addiction and manipulate our behavior. And, the most dangerous thing about it is that the users are just not aware of it. My favorite quote from the film is – “If you’re not paying for the product, then you’re the product.”, which clearly tells how deceptive these social media platforms are which we use.

Justin Rosenstein, one of the interviewees, states: We live in a world in which a tree is worth more, financially, dead than alive, in a world in which a whale is worth more dead than alive. For so long as our economy works in that way and corporations go unregulated, they’re going to continue to destroy trees, to kill whales, to mine the earth, and to continue to pull oil out of the ground, even though we know it is destroying the planet and we know that it’s going to leave a worse world for future generations. This is short-term thinking based on this religion of profit at all costs, as if somehow, magically, each corporation acting in its selfish interest is going to produce the best result. This has been affecting the environment for a long time. What’s frightening, and what hopefully is the last straw that will make us wake up as a civilization to how flawed this theory has been in the first place, is to see that now we’re the tree, we’re the whale. Our attention can be mined. We are more profitable to a corporation if we’re spending time staring at a screen, staring at an ad, than if we’re spending that time living our life in a rich way. And so, we’re seeing the results of that. We’re seeing corporations using powerful artificial intelligence to outsmart us and figure out how to pull our attention toward the things they want us to look at, rather than the things that are most consistent with our goals and our values and our lives.

Verdict : The film is a must-watch for all who are using these social platforms to know what they are exactly part of.

Rating : 4/5

Check the trailer here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uaaC57tcci0

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