The Social Dilemma
Technology is part of everyday life. People consistently rely on technology to perform everyday tasks, entertain themselves, and consume information. Most people in the world, regardless of their age, have smartphones and consequently access to social media platforms. The documentary “The Social Dilemma” explores how phone use and social media significantly impact and influence people’s lives.
One of the biggest takeaways from this documentary is data collection. Social media platforms use algorithm-based technology that tracks, monitors and records everything one watches, likes, comments, and shares. Social media platforms can create individualized profiles on one’s likes, beliefs, and feelings about different subjects through this information. Also, this technology can easily make predictions about one’s future actions and feed them information that they want to see. Moreover, the data collected is commercialized and sold to different companies, further infringing on people’s privacy.
Another key takeaway is the impact of social media on mental health. As highlighted in the documentary, these technologies are not designed by psychologists. Therefore, they have little regard for an individual’s wellbeing. Social media features such as thumbs up, likes and hearts provide short-term approval signals that are falsely equated to value. The more comments and reactions people get on their posts, the more value they have, while the opposite equates to the lack of value. As a result, these short-term approval signals leave people feeling more empty, anxious and depressed. Moreover, it is not uncommon to see people make funny comments and memes about mental health issues such as depression, a factor that further affects one’s emotions and mental wellbeing.
This documentary was eye-opening as it provided insight into how social media companies collect, use, and sell our data. The documentary also revealed the correlation between social media use and increased mental health issues. Going forward, I will be more cautious of my actions online and equally reduce the time I spend on my phone. Hopefully, these measures will better protect me from online exploitation.