The new Netflix original documentary, The Social Dilemma, makes you want to throw your cellphone away with its gripping narrative of how social media has become an existential threat to mankind.
We’ve all been warned that social media has its drawbacks, but there’s no question that it is now a deeply entrenched part of our human experience… and the chickens are coming home to roost.
The Social Dilemma starts off by introducing a massive ensemble of former employees from major online and social media platforms like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. They tell us the story about how social media became such a key feature of our daily lives. They then tell us about how these platforms, which on the surface appear to be making an incredibly positive impact on our lives, have come to harm us far more in the long run.
And, as you watch on in horror while they list the unconscious habits that we know we’ve picked up, you begin to realise what the consequences of your relationship with your cellphones, laptops, tablets and everything in between are.
The psychological effects are probably the worst, and The Social Dilemma explores the ways in which we’ve become increasingly insecure with each selfie we take. It tells the story behind how our personal data, such as our web searches, our movements, our eating habits, and our private conversations, are being stored in a giant repository for which the tech giants hold the keys. Through personalised advertising experiences, our minds are susceptible to manipulation and we have become slaves to consumerism. And, of course, we can be influenced politically as well. There are only two industries, The Social Dilemma notes, that refer to their customers as users: social media platforms and illegal drug dealers.
Netflix truly hit gold with The Social Dilemma in terms of the credibility of the interviewees, but also with the exceptional way through which it brings us to the realisation of how incredibly pressing this problem of social media addiction really is.
Not only does it deliver the narrative perfectly, but it has a profound emotional effect of perhaps fear, perhaps guilt, perhaps regret or perhaps a combination of the three. The evidence and the emotional impact truly sheds light on a massive challenge that millennials and zoomers are facing. The question is whether we’ll heed the warnings and toss our iPhones to the wind or continue to live as digital slaves.
Essential Millennial rating:
5 out of 5 avocados