“The Social Dilemma”: The Epidemic of Technology

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By Luca Hatzopoulos, Managing and Social Media Editor

For anyone who is interested in documentaries or wants to start getting into them, “The Social Dilemma”, a Netflix original, is a great start. This documentary analyzes the power of technology ever since its boom and the dangerous human impact of social networking.

“The Social Dilemma” features many tech workers who used to work for various social media companies who eventually left and joined other companies. Tristan Harris,  a former Google design ethic and Co-founder of the Center of Humane Technology, goes in-depth and explains the truth about the internet and how your information is being used.

Numerous people, including myself, have probably just thought once you sign up for a social media app, they take your information, sell it, and you can’t do much about it. In theory, I guess that is correct but, it is also not. Harris explains, once a company like Google get’s your information, they use your information and recent search activity to build a “model” of yourself in order to make your feed more like-able by you. They have no interest in selling your information when they are competing against every other social media app to create the perfect “model” of you and win.

The documentary goes in-depth talking about the relation between social media and mental health, the heavy flow of fake news through social media platforms, how all your information is tracked, and how no one is planning on solving this problem anytime soon. In order to help this situation, many people have to realize that there is a problem to begin with, which many people haven’t even realized yet.

“If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product” was a quote mentioned that stuck out to me while watching this documentary because it made me realize how I am the product and how everyone else is too, without even realizing it. Being the product means you are being the audience to ad companies so ads can pay websites and social media companies to keep their business’ running. This documentary does a fantastic job of explaining what big social media or tech companies do in order to grab your attention, and stay engaged with their app/website. The documentary explains how we are all lab rats and how social media works, like the concept of slot machines in Las Vegas.

Another quote from the documentary that stood out to me was, “There are only two industries that call their customers ‘users’: Illegal drugs and software” American statistician Edward Tufte said. As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, the documentary described us a “lab rats” to the tech industry and when I read this quote, it helped me better understand what they meant by “lab rats”.

This documentary was truly eye-opening in many aspects. It was obviously a documentary to argue the more negative effects of the human impact on social networking, but it did also include the many obvious and not so obvious pros of it as well. It made me realize that there are more problems with social networking than I have realized. It is quite fascinating to learn about how all the behind the scenes of technology and social networking operate. If you are into social media and technology, this documentary is great, I would rate it a 10/10 and recommend everyone to watch it!