10/5 The Social Dilemma – Leah Montgomery

The Social Dilemma is a documentary film released in 2020 to exemplify the ways in which the technological world has taken over the lives of every single person around the world, and that it is a much more complex system than we might realize. 

Throughout the film, tech experts from Silicon Valley are interviewed and asked to describe to the viewers the different layers of so-called “brainwashing” that social media and the media as a whole have created for every individual. Each of these experts have either occupational backgrounds from different technological companies, or are experts in the subject of technology through mediating conversation in the educational realm. With that in mind, there is also a simultaneous depiction of a fictional family exemplifying to the viewers the ways in which the technological world affects us in the most simplistic of settings. We learn from this family that Gen Z will go to extreme lengths to keep themselves connected to the internet and social media, while we learn from a separate character, whose name is Ben, that we get so easily distracted by our phones on purpose. His character is analyzed through a different lens, in which the viewer can see everything behind the scenes when it comes to his relationship with his phone. In an attempt to not use the phone for a week in order to get his parents to pay for a new screen because his was cracked earlier in the movie, the fictional people controlling the notifications on his phone start to worry that his lack of usage is unacceptable. In an attempt to get him to use the phone, they find something, or rather someone, who will pique his interest enough to get him to use the phone. In this specific situation, it was a notification that his ex-girlfriend was in a new relationship. This was the most frightening aspect of the documentary, knowing that the phone constantly chooses for you what will get you to use it the most, and that everything that makes us addicted to technology is on purpose. Just writing this, I have checked my phone 4 different times to see if I got a notification. Even though there wasn’t one, I still had the urge to check to make sure. This is a purposeful tactic fueled by the companies who make the most money out of my specific phone usage. 

Lastly, they discuss the concept of fake news. The documentary does a great job exemplifying how easy it is to get sucked into misinformation, and that we fall down these rabbit holes of information, not knowing whether or not it is real information. This fueling of information, true or false, has caused our society to destroy itself from within, whether that be through protests against or for conspiracy theories, presidential elections, “pizzagate” and more. Technology has become an epidemic that nobody intended to spiral out of control, and I have no idea how anyone can halt its progression.

 

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