I recently watched The Social Dilemma, which inspired me to deleted my instagram account (I left Facebook years ago), and plan on disconnecting myself from Whatsapp soon. Things need to change...
The Social Dilemma is a documentary which explores the human impact of social media, their business models, platform design and social feed algorithms. It’s a combination of a fictitious story about a family wrestling with managing the affects of social media on the family and the individual family memebers, along with interviews with ex employees from the larger social media platforms. It’s certainly given me pause for thought to consider my own habits, and the claim that if things don’t change we’re heading towards a global existential crisis.
Now most of us have been there, wasting time, endlessly scrolling, clicking, liking and refreshing. If you find yourself agreeing, then it’s likely the platform you’re using, is in part to blame and The Social Dilemma will help you to understand the ways these platforms tap into your psychology and physiology to keep you coming back for more. And with this understand hopefully the ability to reflect, take control and change your ways for the better.
Now don't get me wrong, these platforms do produce positive outcomes. They let us keep in touch with friends and family, learn, laugh and join communities but ultimately they’re designed to keep us glued to our screens. Screen time equals more data, more data leads to the platform understanding us better (than we know ourselves), which in turn leads to more tailored targeting of adverts. You may have heard the saying:
“If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product”.
To the uninitiated, you may be ok with being the product (you’re not alone, Facebook has over 2 billion accounts) but with education you can turn this view and acceptance into a pause for thought, research time, giving a thought to those friends and family (especially our children) who maybe suffering and hopefully you will see that these platforms are leading to:
- The need for likes. Likes give your brain a dopamine hit which gives you a buzz and makes you feel good, but it’s short lived leading you to keep coming back for more. This is also known as addiction.
- Self harm
- Mental health issues, anxiety and depression
- Lack of good quality sleep
- Lack of proper face to face social interaction
- Constantly comparing ourselves with others leading to feelings of unhappiness and inadequacy
- Needing to sugar coat and present our best lives
- Derision, division and echo chambers, leading to trolling, frustration, anger, alienation, violence and death
- Fake news and information. If we don’t know what’s true, how are we to achieve common goals for good in the future?
- Political and social chaos
Do you want to be part of that?
So what can I do?
I firstly recommend putting your feet up, checking out The Social Dilemma, having a think about what's being put across and joining the conversation.
Go check out the Center for Human Technology website
Watch Jaron Lanier's Why you should delete your social media accounts