How addicted are you to social media? Better yet, how willing are you to admit that you are, in fact, addicted? A lot of people might state that they ‘only’ spend a limited time on social media per day when in truth some folks might spend hours and hours on one platform after another. I’ll admit it, I look at Facebook, I get a kick out of some of the stuff that’s on there, and might even comment now and then if I feel the need. Otherwise, it’s a bit of a circus since the very real manner in which people are manipulated by social media and those that are operating it, who are also addicted, believe it or not, is a big part of why The Social Dilemma is one more cry into the blizzard of information we see so often, but an important cry that needs to be heard since some people effectively lose themselves in social media on a regular basis and don’t appear to realize it. If one is going to be entirely honest some folks will wake up and check Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any other site first thing, and will base their day off of what they see and what kind of news they’re being fed. The saddening part about this is that they openly give up their free will to the machine, to the ever-present and always watching AI that control what they see, what they’re into, and what shapes them as a human being with what they believe is choice and free will.
The documentary makes it clear that the main goal of social media was initially to create a type of system in which people could use it to benefit in a lot of ways, which they have. People have reconnected, they’ve been given ideas aplenty to work with, and they’ve been able to access a wealth of information that they might not have been able to access as easily as before. But one has to remember that with the ease of information there are downsides as well as upsides. From the simple idea that people could argue safely from a distance and say what they want without fear of reprisals to the fact that people can now share some of the vilest ideas and beliefs over social media now, social media has become less of a tool and more of a source that many upon many people feed into, looking for information while becoming less and less aware of how each piece of information they give is being used to analyze their likes and dislikes so that the system can figure out what to show them and what to avoid. The idea that all of us are for sale when it comes to the system is horrifying in a way since the very sound of it would scare quite a few people, while others might not care a single bit and will continue in the same manner. As the movie shows, the system, theoretically, is building up our character for us as we continue to pay attention to one feed after another, or buy one thing after the other, as it will keep tabs on us and continue to build that personality as it sees fit, pushing more and more until it begins to change us little by little.
That’s the doom and gloom side of this story however since it’s established first and foremost that social media was meant to do great things, but somewhere down the line things started to go south, becoming a little more difficult to sort out as more and more people got hold of the platforms and started tweaking them to gather more and more information on the users in order to shape and reshape the platforms to the needs of the people. The only problem with this is that in order to make a profit, social media must become more and more additive, meaning that people spend more and more time on their phones or other devices, and essentially become so hooked to them that their sense of self, their self-esteem, and their desperate need for attention becomes connected to social media in such a way that they can’t be without it, can’t do without it, and can’t bring themselves to simply disconnect for that long without having withdrawals of some sort. One has to imagine that back in the day that none of us would have thought that this was possible, that we would be connected to something in such a way that it would demand everything, that it would take everything, and that it would require an act of willpower to actually put that device down. Some might want to say that it was this way with pretty much anything, but social media is a different animal altogether, and that’s why this documentary is more than a little important.