One of the cover images for the documentary on Netflix

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One of the cover images for the documentary on Netflix

The Social Dilemma is a powerful documentary

The Social Dilemma is a documentary/narrative on Netflix that, of course, delves into the topic of social media. 

My parents gave me one requirement before I could press download on Instagram: sit down and watch this 2022 film. So, I did. I got my computer and a blanket and prepared myself to endure a devastatingly dull narrative. I was proven wrong.

One part of The Social Dilemma focuses on a family of five: a pre-teen, two teenagers, and two parents. This is the drama narrative the producers used to show how social media affects each age group. The pre-teen is shown crying as she edits and posts a picture of herself. She then proceeds to receive negative comments that make her more self-conscious and insecure. She is obsessed with her phone, continuously watching what other people post and the comments she receives on her own posts. This demonstrates how the younger age group is irresponsible with the way they use social media. Cyberbullies don’t put thought into their actions online. It also shows how the mental state of younger kids is affected and not mature enough for social media as I discussed yesterday in my column. The pre-teen was consumed with insecurities because she was exposed to such apps too soon. 

But, even her teenage brother was obsessed with social media. He, however, was hooked in a way that didn’t show as much as the pre-teen sister revealed. The addiction to social platforms got to the point where he wasn’t partaking in the activities he used to enjoy such as soccer. His older sister noticed and tried to talk him out of it, but he stayed glued to his cell phone. He spent his time mindlessly scrolling. The brother was the main focus of the documentary; through him, the creators revealed how time-consuming social media can be and how big of an impact it makes. As you scroll and scroll through TikTok, you are not focusing on your actions, but instead are allowing the companies behind the app to collect more and more data from you, sending you a plethora of ads and videos that will keep you on the app longer. 

Aside from the dramatic narrative, there were real people who worked for the companies behind the social media apps. In each interview, they all conceded that people are the product these companies are selling. The longer you are on their app, the better, because it’s more of you they have to sell. Everyone acknowledges the fact that social media platforms sell our data; it is then ignored. But, the apps are keeping users mindlessly scrolling and overstimulating brains in order to use people to get more money. 

The human brain does not need constant satisfaction to survive; actually, it’s the opposite. So, by not focusing and simply scrolling through TikTok, you are shortening your attention span and losing your contentment and happiness in the real world. 

A way to avoid this is by paying attention. Think about the consequences that will come of your choice to post, comment, or scroll. Limit your time on social media so the apps sell less of you. Simply focus. A way to shorten your time spent on your phone is by picking up a hobby, joining a team of some sort, picking up a book, or going for a walk; as long as you pack in an activity, you won’t have the time to be on social media.

Before going back to your phone, skip past Instagram or Snapchat and open Netflix to watch this documentary instead. Everyone should watch The Social Dilemma to truly understand what is happening behind the screens of our phones. 

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