• Madeline Jackson

The Social Dilemma

Editor’s Note

I asked Tawny delivery walker, 16year old Madeline, to review The Social Dilemma and share her insights on growing up in a digital-obsessed world, where the screens we’re all glued to are being manipulated to transform our personalities, viewpoints and behaviours.

A still from docudrama The Social Dilemma. Photo credit: Netflix

The internet has seeped into our lives so deeply that it’s usually impossible for many people to live their lives without it. It’s used for everything from schoolwork, to online gaming, you can even pay your taxes over the internet. If you went outside and asked a stranger on the street if they’d ever used the internet, they would most likely look up from their phone and say that of course they have. Technology is ingrained into our lives as the social norm, so at this point not many people see anything wrong with it.

This is where The Social Dilemma comes in. The Social Dilemma is a 94 minute eye opening documentary on Netflix. Directed by Jeff Orlowski, it gives an inside look at what goes on in the tech industry behind the scenes, and often, in front of our very faces. Candid interviews from developers and CEOs from some of the most famous technology and social media companies; including Twitter, Instagram, Google, Apple and Facebook.

The Social Dilemma focuses on the rabbit hole that is social media and their creators, their ulterior motives and predatory business models. The most successful apps utilise how your brain works in order to properly design how a notification will look, to tweak your interest and then set an algorithm that keeps you scrolling. Your device remembers everything you search, even sometimes things you say out loud in conversation, and then tailors advertisements and articles that are exactly what you are looking for before you even realise. Creepy right? Your phone is a spy in your pocket. The documentary speaks at length about how companies like Apple and Microsoft have used these strategies to grow their empires to the US$2 trillion they are worth today.

Not only is social media a monopoly that preys on your attention, The Social Dilemma documentary also highlights the disturbing effects that it has on its users, its youngest ones in particular. The co-creator of the Facebook ‘Like’ Button, Justin Rosenstein, comments on how he is saddened that the feature he created to spread positivity on the site is now an epitome of self-worth for some. It’s hard not to be discouraged by getting 10 likes on a post when Kylie Jenner is getting 250,000 and sadly young people's mental health is suffering due to these unrealistic expectations. The increased rate in which young people are self-harming, and even committing suicide has a direct correlation to the introduction of social media. A fact that has not escaped the people interviewed on this doco, which is why their ethical concerns have resulted in them not only leaving these corporate powerhouses but also stipulating that their own children don't sign up for social media.

This documentary is worth a watch. It’s truly mortifying to see how much technology controls us like puppets. Judgement Day is here, and the enemy is not the Terminator like you thought it was….it’s in your pocket!


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