Review: The Social Dilemma

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This movie got me to delete TikTok.

Netflix gives a fresh take on social media and the all-mighty algorithm.

Sometimes it all feels like one big trap. We know that social media is addictive and divisive but we really can’t do anything about it. We can limit ourselves but there are always some types of social media we are bound to because of social or even professional obligations.

This trap was made ever more claustrophobic by the new Netflix documentary “The Social Dilemma,” a movie that accuses the tech community of having too much power and too little oversight. 

“The Social Dilemma” focuses on how tech companies have used complex algorithms in order to sell your information and engagement. Basically, big tech has a vested interest in keeping you attached to technology.

According to the documentary, there are numerous adverse effects that come from this phenomenon. Including increasing teen suicide rates, fake news and polarization. This all stemming from the main argument: tech companies have too much influence on social behavior in general.

The movie goes back and forth from what seems like a movie portraying the problems social media prompts in daily life to a documentary with big wigs in the tech industry and other experts. Tim Kendall is a notable interviewee, being the former president of Pinterest and director of ads for Google. 

No one in the movie seems to be anything less than credible after a quick Google search (there I go again using a harmful platform). 

In terms of content, the movie is great at bringing to light the problems that we are aware of already. Most of us know that social media and entertainment have an interest in keeping us watching. But, this documentary gives insight into how we got to where we are and to what extent this has impacted individuals.

The arguments are straight forward, blunt and at times jarring. But I don’t think the documentary is too critical. I have taken computer communication classes and the ideas expressed by many of the documentary interviews are shared by academics.

I particularly enjoyed the fact that Silicon Valley executives such as Mark Zuckerberg were not targeted directly. In many ways the film was pointing towards more oversight, indicating that tech companies are over their own heads when it comes to their social and political power. 

The documentary might seem like it’s for a specific audience but the movie is made in a way that an Amish person could understand. It is also entertaining enough to keep you engaged (and slightly enraged) till the end. 

The films hypothetical dramatization of real-life is interesting, but a bit cheesy. The documentarians were successful in explaining the real-life implications of social media but I couldn’t help but chuckle a bit. 

The parts that got me giggling where the oddly veiled references like “the Extreme Center,” which was used to allude to polarization. Or when the daughter is sending a “Snip.” I understand there may be some legal reason for this but still, kind of cheesy. The acting was what you would expect from something like this, pretty canned. 

Overall, the film is a great narrative and rhetorical documentary that has a lot to say and says it well.

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