By Alycia Gilb
“The Social Dilemma” is a brand new Netflix documentary that can perhaps only be described as terrifying. Discussing the man-made monster that is social media, this Netflix original film is seemingly designed to make its audience uncomfortable. The documentary is an interesting mix of narrative, interviews and real-world news clips, creating an immersive and gripping experience. Overall, it’s a call to action for social media developers to make the internet more humane.
I noticed the true weight of this movie for the first time right at the beginning, as it opened with a cryptic quote by Sophocles: “Nothing vast enters the life of mortals without a curse.” After that heavy beginning, I knew that I was in for an hour and a half of questioning everything I know about social media — and I was correct in my assumption.
A perfect mix of hard-hitting facts and visuals, influential speakers and relevant issues, “The Social Dilemma” is a great documentary for all to watch. In fact, I believe that this documentary should become a staple in schools and homes alike. The topics discussed in this film range from social media addiction and the spreading of fake news to the decline of teenagers’ mental health. Since it was released on Netflix just a few weeks ago, the film also covers recent events that hit close to home, including the Covid-19 outbreak and political unrest.
The most interesting part about this documentary is that woven in between interviews and facts is an original narrative. This piece of the film follows a family of five and their own struggles with social media, which makes it that much more relatable. The two main characters of this narrative are, of course, teenagers, who the film stresses are most influenced by social media. The young girl is struggling with her need for validation from likes and comments and is shown drastically editing her pictures. Meanwhile, the high school-age boy is shown as a puppet, controlled by the artificial intelligence working inside his phone.
The interviewees — all developers or workers at social media companies — tell the viewer about everything they’ve done to make the internet more profitable and addictive; and how terrified of it they are now. But they speak of ways to fight against this Frankenstein. Sandy Pirakalas says, referring to artificial intelligence, that, “as humans, we’ve almost lost control over these systems.” This documentary truly proves that we’re living in a real-life science fiction film.
I believe that “The Social Dilemma” could not have come out at a better time, because it is truly a wake-up call for people to take a moment to think about their social media habits and how they can change them. “The Social Dilemma” not only left me stunned and terrified, but also hungry for more information about the empire of social media. It made me want to break the puppet strings that I didn’t even know I was attached to. How can I be a part of this change? How can you?
“How do you wake up from the Matrix when you don’t know you’re in the Matrix?”