“Social Dilemma,” now streaming on Netflix, perfectly depicts the framework of social media addiction today. The documentary directed by Jeff Orlowski shares the sense of responsibility that creators feel for what social media has done to users’ mental health.
It is inevitable to notice that teenagers are addicted to technology nowadays. Influencers they follow and subscribe to create an image of these “perfectly happy” people in their minds and they begin to assume that they have to live up to these unrealistic standards. Social Dilemma addresses this issue that “a whole generation is more anxious, more fragile, and more depressed.”
One thing that is often overlooked is how carefully we are being monitored and recorded by creators behind the other end of our screens. Algorithms are not just based on our interests, recent searches, and page visits, but also the locations that we live in. These persuasive design techniques such as push notifications and the infinite scroll of various news feeds create a feedback loop that constantly attracts us to our devices.
Options such as hearts, likes, and thumbs up have become buttons we put on a board of statistics that determine our value and truth. The high standards of social media have become normalized in today’s generation and as individuals of society, we cannot help but follow the current trends and conform to the same wavelength everyone else is on. However, comparison has a way of getting to us.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, increased usage of screen time is likely to happen: a distraction and coping mechanism for quarantining. However, there are settings we can change, breaks we can take, apps we can delete, steps we can take back, and improvements we can make for our mental health.
Although easier said than done, we must be reminded that the number of followers, likes, and comments we receive does not determine our worth as individuals. No matter what societal norms and media platforms develop over time, remember to zoom out to the bigger picture: reality.