In A State of Social Dilemma

in The LIFESTYLE LOUNGElast year (edited)

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Ironically, "Social Dilemma" has created quite a buzz on the internet nowadays. I'm talking about the trending documentary-drama film on Netflix. What's it about? Here's how Michael Liedtke and Amanda Lee Myers of AP News describe the film:

A new Netflix documentary is setting out to expose technology’s corrosive effects on society during a pandemic that’s left people more dependent than ever on tools that keep them connected with friends, family, and colleagues they can no longer meet in person.
So the timing for Wednesday’s release of “The Social Dilemma” might strike some viewers as odd. But its makers aim to give you a better sense of why the pandemic isn’t the only reason it feels like we’re stuck in a dystopian nightmare.
The film, directed by Jeff Orlowski, aims to explain how Silicon Valley’s embrace of smartphones, attention-grabbing algorithms, polarizing echo chambers, and pursuit of profit have left users reeling in a way that could pose an existential threat to U.S. democracy.


Existential threat.

This film is not here to entertain. It's here to inform. It's here to shake us. It's here to stir us to awakening.

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Image source: Fortune

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Image source: Install or Not

I don't want to sound ominous, but this film is controversial. The tech creators themselves--the guys behind Google, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Youtube--warn us of the addictive drug that social media is becoming to us. Psychologists warn us of how the internet is mind-twisting us. We think it's serving us. But don't you think we're falling prey to its money-making machine? This film put me in a state of a social dilemma. Congratulations, Mr. Director, you succeeded 😅

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Image source: Business Insider

It can't be argued that social media keeps most of the businesses afloat amid the pandemic. Humans are hardwired for connection and belonging. Without a doubt, social distancing will burn us all out eventually. At some point for others alone in isolation, social media is their lifeline to connect with friends and families that they can't meet.

I attended a webinar talk yesterday where the guest speaker was Bro. Bo Sanchez. For Filipinos reading this, if you're a Feast attendee, you might know him. He's one of my favorite motivational speakers.

Anyway, after his moving talk about prospering amid this pandemic, a participant asked a question. Somewhere along the lines of, "how do you deal with social pressure?"

And I was floored by his answer: by defining our own success

Social media is a filthy arena dripping with envy and jealousy. We can't help but compare ourselves to people we see in our feed. Who is winning in life? If that's the question in our heads, let's recalibrate. I'm speaking from experience. Let's get out of this unhealthy competitive mindset.

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Image source: Yahoo! News

We compete with no one but our past selves. Be better than we were yesterday. Start by defining our success. Breakthrough our self-limiting beliefs. And when others post their success in social media, don't burst their bubble. As the Optimist's Creed would say,

Be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.

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Apart from the unrealistic standards of beauty and success, another thing that social media cannot control is fake news. Climate change is a hoax. The COVID-19 pandemic is not real, it's the government controlling its people. The Earth is flat. Smh.

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Image source: Business Insider

This is what the film is telling us. All it needs is for the algorithm to reach like-minded individuals. When more and more people believe a controversy to be true, it becomes a new fact. In one of the news clips shown in the film, a man mentioned that we have transitioned from the information age to the disinformation age. I couldn't agree more. Especially with the fake news spreading like wildfire, the truth becomes subjective. There goes the existential threat. When you're not sure which one is real or not anymore.

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Image source: Aspen Ideas

The world has built up a fast and convenient system. The tech giants are rich because they have thought of solutions to make our lives easier. They wanted the world to be better. They made it better. All is well until it isn't. Until people want more money. Until the once game-changers forget that service comes before earning money. That they are responsible for what they have created. Eventually, we'll find system bugs. How to regulate these social media platforms? The world is still working on it. For now, let's stay alive.

So, I thought this film is revolutionary in a way. It's not putting social media into bad light altogether. We can never label the tools as good or bad. So, what does the film tell us? There's too much freedom on social media platforms. It needs regulations. We need a system reform.

Tristan Harris Social Dilemma Netflix.png

Image source: Aspen Ideas

After all the jibber-jabber, what is my point? Haha! I don't want to urge everyone to delete these social media apps. That's counter-productive. My first thought in defeating the system is not to go against it, but to dance with it. Like an antidote. But that's quite tricky, isn't it? As we go with the flow, we might just get sucked back by the system. I don't know. For all we know, these people who have spoken out must have their motives. I don't know which one's true anymore 😅 What do y'all think? But I think there's no harm if we consider what they have recommended during the rolling of credits.

  1. Reduce notifications.
  2. Start a conversation about this through the technology itself.
  3. Use browsers that don't store search history.
  4. Do not choose recommendations.
  5. Fact-check before sharing.
  6. No social media for children (preferably before 16)
  7. All devices out of the bedroom at night.
  8. Reduce screen-time for your children.

I think, for now, let's be responsible for the stuff we share in social media. Let's just practice empathy. Compassion above all else (even when it's fucking hard). I'm gonna be honest, I'm worried about the next generation. What kind of world have we passed on to them?

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Image source: GQ

📱 END 📱

Disclaimer: All of the quoted statements were gathered from Netflix's Social Dilemma film.
Note: All photos were created and edited by me using Canva

In the cyberspace, Kaycee Ports is a freelance writer who does blog writing, SEO copywriting, and web content for bloggers, entrepreneurs, website designers, and authors. In the mundane world, Kaycee Ports is a licensed chemical engineer practicing her degree in the field of environmental science. She is based in Manila, Philippines as an industrial hygienist. But the strong Bisaya accent still shows at times. In an alternate universe, she believes she's a Beyoncé.
Feel free to follow her if your interests are on personal development, travel and literary arts!

Social media is a filthy arena dripping with envy and jealousy. We can't help but compare ourselves to people we see in our feed.

That's so very true. The tricky part is that people who are posting those amazing things aren't even trying to be malicious; they're just sharing the best parts of their lives, which is really what we all want to do. Every person's day to day is so mundane (get up, go to work/school/get children to school, do some chores, stare at a wall in boredom, etc) that when we finally do get something amazing we want to share it because it excites us! And of course, there's someone who is still at work/at school/staring at the wall and so on who sees that and gets jealous, and so forth.

I've been putting off watching that documentary because I haven't wanted to depress myself. 😂

I totally agree with the sharing tendency in socmed. What good is a feeling if it's not shared? But...people throw rocks at things that shine 🤷‍♀️ Tech creators must take the challenge of redesigning the system in a better way.

It does mess up with the mind, a bit. Haha! There's a point where they show clips of chaos around the world. This film is not for the faint of heart. Truth is a hard pill to swallow. Oh wait, we don't know what's the truth anymore 😅

LOL! Yeah, the truth is all a hoax anyway, isn't it? 😂 We're a strange, strange people.

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the standards are changing and we need to know were going into a noisy era, let's keep our music 20dB above the noise treshold

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After seeing this docu-drama, I turned off my notifications right away. It was hard catching myself time and again checking social media when I had some down time. It wasn't healthy because I was looking for something that isn't even there - the slot machine metaphor! The dopamine hits with every like and comment you get. And the fake news. My gahd, they're getting good at making the people believe what ain't true.

Cool graphics sis. For a while there, I thought you got these from Netflix. 👍

Lisud, diba? Especially as an FA, our job is to meet people. So, social media is a needed tool. Balance lang talaga. Char, FA na haha.

Wee, thanks sis. I'm so kilig because gi-naningan jud na nako ug himo ang graphics haha!

Thank you for this post, it's because of this that I discovered and watched the documentary. Hive helped a lot in curbing the immediate phone checking of FB newsfeed as soon as I turn on my phone in the morning. We have made it a habit of turning off all mobile devices at home during sleeping hours.

Having gone through several social media detox since last year. Some 1-month straight after keeping a few social media accounts temporarily deactivated, I noticed many positive changes by replacing the impulse of reaching for the phone with other activities related to more creative pursuits. I was able to concentrate and complete a certification exam that has been a long term goal by using the supposed screen time into studying instead. Unfortunately, I couldn't delete FB completely because I use it for work.

Moving back to the documentary, I'm grateful for the awareness. It is scary to think that it has created a great divide and would result in chaos if it remains as it is.

Wow, congrats to completing your certification exam! See, there are more productive ways to spend our time in the internet. The problem is that, social media is quite distracting 😅 I haven't tried detoxing yet. I rely too much on social media for connecting with people both personally and in my line of work. It's even harder now that I'm in a wfh set-up. Home was supposed to be a place of rest and relaxation. But I suppose we've got to adjust with the times.

Thank you and thank goodness, we have a means of communication with friends and family during the pandemic. Haha, during that detox time I have been called a hermit 😂 Yes, you're right, it's going to be a challenge to do a social detox during this period, most especially when it's needed for work. The tips and advice you've given will already make a huge difference.