Fri. Oct 23rd, 2020

Movie review: What ‘The Social Dilemma’ says about the dark side of social media

Will you want to delete Facebook, TikTok or Instagram after watching this much-talked-about new Netflix docudrama?

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My first attempt at watching The Social Dilemma went disastrously wrong.

My Twitter was open because I wanted to read other people’s experience of the film before I committed, my Facebook was open because I was brainstorming ideas for my latest blog post, all while looking up outfit ideas on Pinterest.

In a few minutes, I would come to the daunting realisation that I AM THE PRODUCT. And this is exactly what The Social Dilemma is about.

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A screenshot from the film ‘The Social Dilemma’.

What is ‘The Social Dilemma’ about?

The Social Dilemma is a documentary-drama hybrid which explores the impact of social networking, with tech experts sounding the alarm on their own creations.

It’s not every day that one watches a dramatised documentary, and the film surpassed my expectations.

The film makes its point by featuring various Silicon Valley experts, and entertains by adding a fictional twist.

It is not enough to tell the audience how social networks are creating avatars of them, but it is essential to show the process in great detail.

While most of us are aware of how these companies collect our data, the film goes an extra step by showing us exactly how it is used.

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A screenshot from the film ‘The Social Dilemma’.

The dark side of social media

The film fulfils its goal of exposing the dark side of social media. In fact, The Social Dilemma reveals the psychological warfare which social media networks wage on users.

While we have accepted how much these sites know about each one of us, I had never really thought about what they do with the information (apart from the obvious selling it to advertisers).

Having well-known Silicon Valley experts as main features works well for the film because it shows their complacency and participation in the process.

The Social Dilemma shows how they are not only aware of how much danger their users are in, but also how they profit from it.

In one sobering scene, former Facebook President Sean Parker admits that “we understood this consciously, but we did it anyway”.

 ‘The Social Dilemma’ message is not new

The film taps into our already-existing fear and worsens this without offering any solutions.

For anyone who has lived through the Cambridge Analytica scandal and recently watched the US Congress sessions with tech firm CEOs, its message is not new.

We have lived with the knowledge of the dangers which social media poses to young people. So we are left shaking with fear, but with no solution in sight.

While one of the cast members suggests deleting social media, it hardly seems like a viable solution in today’s world.

While the use of experts gives the docu-drama authority and validity; it also comes across as contradictory.

These people are speaking out against a culture which they not only created and participated in, but also profited from.

Some of them still work within that culture and sell similar products. They are also non-apologetic and have an “it is what it is” mindset.

We oohed and aahed 10 years ago while watching The Social Network, learning how Facebook came to be. Today, we watch The Social Dilemma and wonder how we got here.

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