Scarier than the "2020 Year In Review" that will run on New Years Eve?
Scarier than The Conjuring?
Gadgets 360- The Social Dilemma — a new documentary that explores the impact of social networking, which released on Netflix last week — manages to answer why you're watching it even before the first scene ends. Directed by Jeff Orlowski, this documentary made me want to turn off my notifications. Delete the apps I don't need. And keep my phone away.
If you watch the film only on the surface, doomscrolling through your timeline or multi-tasking across half a dozen apps, you probably won't be enthralled by it. The Social Dilemma essentially tells you what we've been hearing since years – that you need to use technology and social media with caution. That these apps collect our data, that too much time scrolling through them can be harmful, especially for mental health, and that social media has contributed a great deal to the spread of misinformation.
Insiders from companies such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, warn us about the very systems they helped build. This makes it a lot more effective than reading an editorial or listening to a podcast about the same ideas, also because of the obvious engagement factors – Netflix knows how to pull in its viewers.
Some of the tech experts interviewed in the film include Tim Kendall, former president of Pinterest and ex-Director of Monetisation at Facebook, Jaron Lanier, author of Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now, and Tristan Harris, co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology who used to work at Google and is clearly the driving force of the documentary.
Like this piece says, "The Social Dilemma" doesn't tell us anything different than we've already heard before. That social media is "bad" and essentially that the more time we spend on it the more addicted to it we become. Which is the intent of it.
The difference here, with this documentary however, is the way in which that message is delivered, and by whom delivers it.
You pretty much have all of the creative forces and brains behind these apps telling us point-blank how their initial intent was noble, but once profits became the focus, the train went off the tracks a long long time ago.
It's so extreme that these individuals have banned their families from using the apps whatsoever. Which really says a lot.
Tim Kendall, the former president of Pinterest, narrates an incident when he couldn't get off his phone after coming back home from work. He was going to work during the day and building something he was then falling prey to at night. “I couldn't help myself," he says.
That's a feeling most of us are familiar with — not being president of a tech-giant, but of catching ourselves falling prey to the pull of social media and technology, but not being able to help it. The constant scrolling and the dopamine rush every time we see a new notification is something our entire generation is all too familiar with.
They have Harvard doctors that go into the science behind it and break down the dopamine rush and need for belonging that's ingrained into our basic human nature and a tribal ancestry that many of us are completely unaware of. But all of us fall prey to. To no fault of our own. We're human. But these social media apps exploit the fuck out of that.
Harris explains the three main goals in technology companies. The engagement goal, to keep you scrolling; the growth goal, to keep you coming back; and the advertisement goal – the one that pays the bills. These goals are backed by algorithms, that know what they need to show you.
The timing of this documentary is both tragic and marvelous. COVID-19 has pushed us all to embrace technology more than ever. How else would we talk to friends, check up on relatives, keep up with the news, attend lectures, and last but probably the most important –doomscroll?
So sure, The Social Dilemma raises important questions, but do we have to take immediate action right now, when technology is one of the few strings holding us all together? Then again, coronavirus has significantly accelerated the spread of fake news, and mediums like WhatsApp and Facebook are being used to spread misinformation. Simultaneous utopia and dystopia, that's what social media offers.
There's an entire part of this company, and the world, that only exists on Twitter for example. I can't keep up to save my life so most of time I'm completely out of the loop. But from that arm's length, you can see the addiction plain as day.
Eddie and Chief did an awesome job really delving into the whole documentary yesterday and today in two parts that I HIGHLY recommend listening to.
The real terror of it isn't that these giant tech companies, headed by billionaires and their private equity backers, know what we look at and are interested in. I think by this time we're all pretty aware privacy doesn't exist. It's that they know down to the smallest detail what we like, what our habits are, and how to manipulate them.
I know it sounds like bullshit. Trust me I when I saw this part I laughed and said "not me" but when they explain just how easily swayed people are by insanely advanced A.I. algorithms you're left feeling kind of helpless.
The amount of time, energy, and money spent on collecting all of this data is unfathamble. Which one of the early Facebook creators makes a great point of saying should be taxed. He posits that these behemoth companies should be taxed on the amount of our personal data they collect and store, like individuals are taxed for how much water they use.
The real low point of the documentary comes when they go into detail about the damage this is all doing to this current generation of adolescents that haven't known a world "pre-social media" like the rest of us have.
It's so fucking sad.
Especially when they produce cold hard evidence of the rise in bullying and suicide rates being directly correlated to all of this.
This shit is literally killing our kids. And robbing them of what should be happy childhoods.
The fact young girls often look up and compare themselves to nobodies and fitness models on Instagram, because that's what Instagram literally tells them to, more than they do women of actual accomplishment, is a major problem.
The documentary also explores the whole polarization of not just American society, but the entire world, through politics and the role social media has played. The only way you can describe it is by literally throwing gasoline on a fire.
A great point that it makes is that 99% of the stories, real or fake, that we come across on social media and read, we instinctively expect others to be aware of.
"If I'm seeing this than everybody else must be too"
Because of these algorithms and the way these applications play us in order to continue to feed us ads and keep us logged on as long as possible, we are all seeing different things. All in order to keep our attention.
Think echo chambers but on a whole other level.
And the truly sad part of all of this is that our government has arguably never been more outmatched on anything ever in it's existence.
You have 60-70 year old's that don't even understand what the internet is, trying to police things and look out for the public's best interest. (That is the ones that aren't in lobbyist's pockets).
They show the infamous Congressional Anti-Trust Hearings and the only thing more pathetic than the questions being asked by Congressional members are the lies and "I don't know" responses from Zuckerberg, Bezos, Cook, and Pichai.
I think this documentary is a must-watch for everybody that uses a smartphone. (Shout out my uncle who refuses and still uses some flip from the stone ages). And especially for parents with children as this is literally a life or death issue when it comes to them.
p.s. - Thought this guy was batshit crazy the first time he appeared on screen. By the end, I couldn't respect him more. Would love to smoke with this guy and just listen to him talk about how fucked up technology is for hours
p.p.s. - of course Sean Parker makes an appearance in it and says "me me me" I, I, I" 400 times.
p.p.p.s. - Might just be because I'm a weirdo but I was getting major "hot for teacher" vibes from this minx whenever she was on-
p.p.p.p.s. - this guy looks like a squid but he might be one of the smartest people I've ever heard speak. Felt like a complete moron by comparison anytime he talked.