The Social Dilemma: A Summary

Social media helps to connect people around the world, but the documentary “The Social Dilemma” provides a new perspective on social media. “The Social Dilemma” is an original film created by Netflix, which contains interviews with staff that have previously worked for different social media platforms, such as Google, Facebook, Instagram, etc. These former social media staff explained how social media uses algorithms that contribute towards users becoming addicted to the apps. They also raised the issue that these practices could be unethical due to the negative impact social media can have on people, especially teenagers, both mentally and physically. The documentary is worth watching and it helps you to reflect on your life and your own social media habits!

5 things I have learned from the documentary

As a teenager, “The Social Dilemma” has inspired me and introduced new concepts to me, including the way social media is controlled by algorithms and how these algorithms utilize links between technology and psychology. In this article, I summarise 5 things I have learned from the documentary.

1. Meet up with friends face-to-face instead of texting them by phone

Social media is a “third person” when you are texting your friends, as the apps can collect your data and may even recommend more media it thinks you’ll like to keep you active and constantly engaged with the app. But who likes to have someone in between when you are talking to your friends? It would be better to meet up with friends face-to-face and text them when they are not near you, to strike a balance between your social life on the internet and in real life!

2. Fact check everything on social media

I learned the importance of fact-checking all the information I obtain in social media, especially the news, because such platforms may not always stop the spread of fake news. Fact check before you respond to an issue or an event in order to ensure you are making a well-informed, educated judgement.

3. Think before you post something on social media

I learned to think carefully before posting something on social media as it will add to my “digital tattoo”. The “digital tattoo” shapes who you are on the internet and how you are perceived. This may cause other internet users to think of you or act towards you in a certain way, which may affect your mental health. More importantly, the things you post in social media are never going to be removed, even if you think you have deleted something – you never know where it has previously been stored, downloaded or shared.

4. Make active efforts to read things that differ from your normal interests and opinions

Social media is run by algorithms, which means it will “feed” you things that you like based on your previous interactions with it. This can lead people to develop extreme thoughts towards an issue or an event. For example, if you think Donald Trump is a good president and you keep watching the videos on YouTube, YouTube will suggest more videos of a similar nature to keep you engaged so that you’ll continue watching. To prevent having extreme, one-sided thoughts towards an issue, reading something that opposes your opinion is very important as this allows you to look at an issue from a different perspective and to understand other people’s thoughts. 

5. Set time limits

Social media will suggest videos or posts that you may like because the goal is to increase your screen time so that companies can make money (as you will be exposed to more advertisements when you’re engaged). However, looking at the screen for such a long time is not only bad for your eyes, but also it can also lead to an addition and lots of lost time, which could have been spent socializing with friends. It may take away your interest in activities that you used to like, and you may find it hard to concentrate on anything else. Therefore, setting time limits is necessary to ensure you are physically and mentally healthy, and that you are able to prioritize other commitments and activities in your life.