Netflix’s “The Social Dilemma”


Kaleigh Stewart, Staff Reporter

Jeff Orloski’s “The Social Dilemma” is a Netflix Original documentary. It speaks about fake news and the addictive principles of social media.  The historical context of the documentary is that technology has been the thing that both builds America up and sets us apart, but it can also be the thing that tears us apart. Tristan Harris a computer scientist, the co-founder of the Center of Humane Technology and a former Google design ethicist speaks on how we can’t even speak anymore because of our differing opinions. 

The documentary is told from the point of view of employees of well known social media platforms including Facebook, Google, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Center for Humane Technology . This provides somewhat of an insight because they know what’s truly going on from the inside. One of the interviewees talked about how Silicon Valley has no conscience. The producers know what they are doing and the consequences, but they continue to do what they’re doing. Tristian Harris, a former design ethicist at Google talks about how he tried to bring to light the addictiveness of social media and fix it. He even created a presentation which went around Google and many of his fellow employees agreed and wanted to make a change. It was the superior forces who had the power to make a change that chose to ignore the problems. 

Jaron Lanier, author of “Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media,” talks about deleting all social media. He speaks about how advertisers are truly the customers and we are the products because advertisers are the ones buying and we aren’t paying for anything. Overall, our attention is the product. Technology uses our own psychology against us and many agree that it is ruining the fabric of democracy. This documentary is a warning and is in a sense a peak behind the curtain. Arthur C. Clarke, a science writer stated, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, technology is only an illusion. This was super eye opening for me and frightening in a way.

Orloski even includes a narrative segment where he shows a modern suburban family dealing with the consequences of social media.  The young daughter is shown struggling with self image issues and the teenage son is shown being swept away and radicalized with YouTube’s broad recommendations promoting unclear ideologies. This was the most intriguing part of the documentary for me because it was so realistic and was conveyed really well. 

Nonetheless, Jeff Orloski’s “The Social Dilemma” is a notable way to warn us of the dangers of data mining and manipulative technology in our social lives. This is a perfect documentary to view with family members of all ages. As a teenager, I am challenged with the everyday dilemmas of social media. It impacts me greatly, and the documentary covered the struggles and stressors very well.