An Analysis of Netflix’s ‘The Social Dilemma’

A movie poster for The Social Dilemma


A movie poster for The Social Dilemma

Sadie Guffy, Staff Writer

With the days getting shorter and the weather getting colder, there is no better time than now to light a candle and curl up in a blanket to binge watch new titles on Netflix. While I have personally not had a lot of time to start watching a new series, I have watched a few new documentaries. These are the titles that I more commonly gravitate to when watching Netflix; they are very well done and they are not as much of a commitment to watch unlike a series such as Grey’s Anatomy.

One of the documentaries that hit Netflix this year is called The Social Dilemma. This documentary discusses the psychology of social media and the harmful effects that it is already showing in newer generations. The film features interviews with many social media development pioneers, who have left their position to discuss some of the frightening aspects of these platforms that the public knows little about. This documentary is thought-provoking, and it made me analyze the role that social media and technology play in my day-to-day life. A quote from the documentary that stood out to me was one that was said by professor and statistician Edward Tufte which stated, “There are only two industries that call their customers ‘users’: illegal drugs and software.” This quote was shocking to me because it made me think in a completely different way about technology and my personal usage of it. I know that personally I use technology at an unhealthy amount, and I know I am not alone. According to Addiction Center, as many as 5-10% of Americans fit the criteria for social media addiction. That may not sound like a lot, but that is more than thirty million Americans. In these times, it is hard not to be infatuated with social media and technology as it is so integrated into our society. With the current state of our world, it is almost impossible to complete a full day without the use of it. It is used for schoolwork, communication with loved ones, and keeping up with current events. It saves people from awkward social situations and it keeps them entertained. 

This documentary quite honestly terrified me for the future of technology. I have always despised how addicted I am to my smartphone and how it plays such a large role in our current generation. This documentary opened my eyes to its harm and how the algorithms in our Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok feeds are completely catered to us and our beliefs. Early investor venture capitalist for Facebook, Roger McNamee stated “The way to think about it is as 2.5 billion Truman Shows. Each person has their own reality with their own facts. Over time you have the false sense that everyone agrees with you because everyone in your news feed sounds just like you. Once you’re in that state, it turns out you’re easily manipulated.” This has created mass political polarization in our world and the people being interviewed in the documentary stated that they believed that it could lead to more serious repercussions. A more recent example of this would be within our most recent presidential election. People are now more polarized than ever concerning their political beliefs and it is creating a great division. There is no doubt that social media and technology have played a vital role in this. All in all, this documentary opened my eyes to the negative aspects of technology.

I would recommend this documentary to anyone who uses social media, which is nearly everyone. It opened my eyes to the secrets of social media algorithms and how they play a role in our daily lives. It also showed how it could affect our future. Now when I pick up my phone, I think about how involuntary that action has become. The Social Dilemma is a must-watch for anyone living in this technological generation.