Netflix Documentary: "The Social Dilemma." Pushes Old Fears into New Tech.
What is the real dilemma?
“The Social Dilemma” brings together social media app leaders to discuss the unstoppable monster of their own creation. This Netflix Documentary is a bold warning of the unforeseen strength that lies within our technological devices. Some ramifications of tech usage have undeniably negative consequences which are highlighted in the film, but will it truly lead to civilizations' downfall as the documentary suggests?
Technology gives you thoughts that you didn't intend to have. This statement breaks down one of social media’s most sinister unforeseen elements. In the earliest days of social media, all content was self-curated so that the user would choose who to follow and would see only their posts. However, most apps now curate content for the user in the form of paid advertisements similar to posts the user has interacted with. All of this personalized content is generated by the creepy code version of yourself, shown as a sci-fi digital zombie in the documentary. This encoding knows your interest, your weaknesses, your taste, but it has no moral compass of its own, or knowledge of ‘truth’. Is the digital coding version becoming more like us, or is it possibly the other way around? Humans are becoming desensitized to violence, to anger, to death. With that comes an inevitable loss of the most human thing, empathy.
Did this downhill fall into desensitization start with social media platforms such as Twitter, which was introduced to the public in 2006 and has been used outside of earth’s orbit since 2009? Or has humanity inched closer to this hill with each media- technological advancement? With video games, parents made the same exact arguments - that the games are dangerously addictive and have a negative effect on those who play them. Outside of entertainment, even news broadcasts have an undeniable desensitizing effect. Every day for the past 73 years, humans have had the ability (and the implied obligation) to turn on the news and see dying children, starvation, home bases turned to battlefields.
When it comes to television and video games, you consciously make the decision to witness violence or brutality. The most recent changes in social media have taken this form of control from the user. When scrolling through pictures of your friends and their pets, you may come across a human being killed without ever meaning to. These images existing in a space of comfort confuses the mind until it loses its shock value and, most horrifically of all, becomes normality. Social media whistleblowers also point out the obvious, that the apps were not made with children in mind. In the commercial mass-market world we live in, what is truly created child-proof? Easy bake ovens catch fire, along with many other products that are marketed specifically to children which fail to meet safety requirements for the sale of rushing the product to market. The only way to create an ultra child-proof virtual space will also come with a rise in censorship, the growth of which is an arguably bigger threat than that of tech.
The documentary also reveals that in the eyes of social media app makers, we are the product. This line is meant to be a scary revelation, but it certainly isn't a new one. Humans have been products for monetary gain for years and years. Advertisements on our feeds serve the same purpose as advertisements that play on traditional television between shows. Sure, marketing has become more in touch with millennials but that can also be attributed to millennials now being employed by media-marketing teams.
Technology has improved the human way of life in so many ways. If it is our goal to do so, we can truly connect with people all over the world! As long as real conversations are had rather than just clicking on hearts. Commuting has become easier and safer, financial management and growth is more attainable, keeping in contact with family from far away is a blessing to so many, as well as being able to raise money and donate to a cause you care about. It is possible that this is all sweetener for poison, but is turning back or even slowing down technological advancement an option?
Humans’ addiction to their technology is quickly transforming into humans becoming technology. Technology controlling humanity isn’t the future, it has already happened. Social media has had a negative effect on our world, but in reality, it’s another link in a very long chain of technological innovation. Humanities worsening psychological issues haven't arisen from technology, but the isolation that technology has made far too comfortable. The ancient search for a cure to mortality will be found through tech, and we will be terrified with each new step. The greatest dilemma is; should we trade in our humanity for immortality?