I watched this latest Netflix film: The Social Dilemma, and to be honest I do agree on most of the points but the onus lies on us as well. So, I thought of penning down my review on this Netflix documentary. First, I will start describing the film, followed by critical reviews and finally my opinions.
The Social Dilemma is an American documentary drama film, directed by Mr. Jeff Orlowski and written by Davis Coombe, Orlowski, and Vickie Curtis. This Netflix film explores the rise of social media, and it’s fallout on society and our lives at large. The film focuses on how users are exploited for monetary gains by the wealthy owners of social media platforms.
All these are done through surveillance capitalism and data mining. The Social Dilemma reflects how social media to encourage addiction, its role in politics, its impact on our mental health, its contribution towards spreading fake news, thus causing social conflicts. But I think it will be wrong to say Social Media as unsafe.
The Social Dilemma: Plot
The film, “The Social Dilemma” features several interviews with some of the notable personalities of social media giants like Facebook, Google, Pinterest, Yonder. The interviews involve former design ethicist of Google and co-founder of Center for Humane Technology – Tristan Harris, his fellow co-founder of Center for Humane Technology – Aza Raskin, co-founder of Asana, and co-creator of Facebook like button – Justin Rosenstein. The interviews in this Netflix Film also included that of professor Shoshana Zuboff at Harvard University and Tim Kendall – former Pinterest president. Few other interviews that are featured in The Social Dilemma – Netflix documentary are:
- Rashida Richardson AI Now director of policy research
- Renee DiResta – Yonder director of research
- Anna Lembke (Addiction Medicine Fellowship program director) of Stanford University
- Pioneer of virtual reality – Jaron Lanier.
The interviews are compiled along with dramatizations. The actors in The Social Media are Skyler Gisondo, Kara Hayward, and Vincent Kartheiser. They will tell the story of teenage social media addiction.
The Social Dilemma – Cast
The cast of The Social Dilemma is mentioned here:
- Tristan Harris
- Cathy O’Neil
- Anna Lembke
- Roger McNamee
- Guillaume Chaslot
- Aza Raskin
- Justin Rosenstein
- Shoshana Zuboff
- Jaron Lanier
- Tim Kendall
- Rashida Richardson
- Renee DiResta
- Skyler Gisondo as Ben
- Chris Grundy as Step-Dad
- Sophia Hammons as Isla
- Catalina Garayoa as Rebecca
- Kara Hayward as Cassandra
- Vincent Kartheiser as A.I.
- Barbara Gehring as Mom
The Social Dilemma – What the Reviews Say?
The reviews on the Netflix film – The Social Dilemma are encouraging. The website, Rotten Tomatoes, says that the documentary drama film has an approval rating of 88% based on 39 reviews. As per the website, the average rating of The Social Dilemma has a rating of 7.62 on 10. The critics on this website opine – “Clear-eyed and comprehensive, The Social Dilemma presents a sobering analysis of our data-mined present.”
Another film review website – Metacritic, rated this Netflix documentary 78 out of 100. The rating is based on nine critics and reflects positive reviews.
According to ABC News‘s Mark Kennedy – The Social Dilemma is an eye-opener to how social media is used to encourage addiction and influence people’s behavior. The facts are genuine, too, as they are narrated by the experts who were part of Facebook, Google, and Twitter. According to him, social media can manipulate one’s decision to buy a new expensive smartphone by throwing away the older one in the garbage! It may lead to social conflicts too.
Dennis Harvey stated that the film explains how it isn’t just about profit, or even poorly socialized children, but a steady diet of perspective-warping memes. These can effectively undermine the empathetic trust that binds societies, as well as the solidity of democratic institutions and lead to social conflicts. According to David Ehrlich of IndieWire‘s, this Netflix film shows us the real picture of what addiction to social media can cause.
A Financial Times review brings out more shocking causes of social media. It says that social media is the reason behind depression, teenage problems, suicides, genocides, riots, social conflicts and protests. The Social Dilemma portrays all these adverse effects of social media.
The New York Times said that the Netflix documentary film involves interviews of former experts with companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. They clarify that the perniciousness of social media platforms is a feature and not a bug. Kevin Crust of the Los Angeles Times‘s reacted, saying that most users are probably aware that their data is accessed. But nobody really cares and ignores the issue as they think it is merely a trade-off in receiving targeted ads on favorite items. But the real problem is more.
The Social Dilemma – My Opinion
Any Idea about definition of dilemma? It is a situation where we are offered two possibilities on one issue. The Social Media will also offer variety of possibilities. It is upon us to choose the right. Well, I want to be balanced on my review on this Netflix Film – The Social Dilemma. Social Media is, in fact, helpful in many ways. Just imagine you have opened a startup and want to promote your products and even sell them. What’s better than Facebook and Instagram to do that. And believe me, it works!
If you love writing, simply write good stuff on WordPress, Blogger, Medium, and leave the rest to Google. You can also share your informative ideas through videos on YouTube. If your writing or work has the quality, Google will take a note on someday or the other and help you earn money online.
If you have shifted recently to a new place and need some new friends to hang out with, again, Facebook can come to your rescue. Voice your opinion on any matter on Twitter. So, we are one world with Social Media. Anyone can interact with any one at any point from any place. But, there is a fallout! Too much addiction to anything spoils it. One must be responsible enough on using social media. Some of the fallouts of social media that are reflected in The Social Dilemma –
- Fake News – Plenty of examples can be given on this like the famous ‘Pizzagate.’ Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 in India, Genocide in Myanmar, and many more.
- Hate Speech – Facebook and other social media platforms to date have no concrete policy on the sharing of false news and hate speech. The recently concluded Bangalore Riots 2020 are all products of irresponsible and hateful posts on social media. The Wall Street Journal report said that Facebook’s top public-policy executive in India opposed applying hate-speech rules to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) individuals. But with time, things have to change. Hate speech can really cause havoc in society and lead to civil wars and riots.
- Depression and Suicide – Have you noticed one thing when you are upset and sad and want a solution to that from Google. You will come across several keywords in the search section. As soon as you select any of the keywords which may hive you a solution to your problem, the backend programming of Google registers your emotions behind the search. After that, you will keep getting notifications on similar searches. It is found that often people are pushed to further depression or even suicide or murder like this. When you have just sent a friend request on Facebook, they will show you further suggestions to send requests. So, all these are tactics to engage you more.
- Addiction among Teenagers – The Netflix film also shows how teenagers and young adults get too much addicted to social media. This have adverse affects on their behavior, and social life with family and friends.
I can not disagree with the things shown on The Social Dilemma. But, just imagine the world without social media! I will say people should be responsible for the way they are using the platform. Using anything excessively and wrongly is not good. And, the legal bodies of social media platforms like Facebook, Google, Twitter, and others must take steps to implement certain parameters on posting and sharing.
The bottom line is that we can not blindly blame the social media and biggies like Google or Facebook alone, there are multiple smaller platforms that spread hate and falsities. Stormfront is one such site that encourage hate speech according to Casey Newton from The Verge.
The film The Social Dilemma, is no doubt, nicely crafted and well-directed documentary drama which has shown us the flip-side of social media in a very effective way. But, I am not totally against social media, and not in favor of treating it as unsafe. In the end it’s the users who must use the platforms responsibly. But nevertheless, this Netflix Film has surely opened my eyes and will help me use social platforms in a more cautious way. I will request to watch this film at your leisure, and you will surely become more aware of social media.