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“The Social Dilemma” Shows the Harsh Reality We All Need to See

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? Check emails, calls, texts? Update your Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram? Find “inspo” for outfits on Pinterest or YouTube? Most likely the first thing you even touch in the morning is your phone to see what you missed and provide your brain with that instant gratification we’re all looking for. Seems harmless right? I’m guilty of it too, everyone is. In a day and age where we are all connected by technology and constantly use it in our everyday lives we don’t realize how much of it controls what we do or think. No one realizes how much power they relinquish to Facebook, Google and hundreds of other corporations. We know little about the people controlling what we see and what we use on a daily basis. Netflix’s new documentary The Social Dilemma sounds the alarm on the dangerous impact of human social networking. 

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Filmmakers sat down with tech experts to highlight the unintended consequences of a growing digital tool. They talk about how at first it was completely innocent. People like Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Facebook, and Jack Dorsey, co-creator of Twitter, created these platforms to connect people and to share information and ideas. Truthfully it has been progressive, connecting long lost family members, igniting movements and creating jobs. However, over time it has turned into a toxic market where people like you and me aren’t consumers, we are the product being sold; “"Only two organizations call their customers ‘users’: illegal drugs & software" (The Social Dilemma). Advertisers are competing against each other to buy our attention - you see what you see for a reason. No one intended for it to become as addictive and destructive as it has, no one person is to blame. The most frustrating part may be that this whole social media tangle has seemingly fallen out of our hands. Every day our lives are controlled by computers which could mean our worst fears have already come true.

[bf_image id="grf4pm8q6xpjrr5tvb4jq5f"] Have you ever wanted a product or service and an ad pops up for that exact thing you wanted? Side note, it wasn’t a coincidence, algorithms are in place to show us posts that relate to our interests. Our actions, screen time, time on each post, what we like and dislike are all tracked and used to determine what is on your feed. Scary right? Notifications draw you back in when you’ve been offline for too long and only show snippets to grab your attention and send you back into the social media black hole. When you hit refresh, something new pops up everytime no matter how many times you do it. You are fed information that you like whether true or not. It creates a toxic one-sided world that we get sucked into because it pleasures us and it validates our truths or forces us to believe new ones because no other information is shown. Take a look at your feed, do you see anything you don’t like? Most likely your answer is no. Looking at my feed I question how much of it is accurate, what other information am I missing, how toxic and close minded has it made me? As people we are so easily manipulated and formed by social media. The amount of misinformation has brought more harm than good and has polluted many minds.   

[bf_image id="qg1y3u-54m4sw-6y8z77"] After watching the documentary I realized how much I need to unplug. Social media has shaped much of how I view the world and people, myself included. Social media should be a platform to spread love, kindness and awareness in my opinion. But with our society and everyone’s need to be pleasured and desire to be validated we will continue to be products. We need to demand change from these big corporations whom we give great power over our lives. We need to demand our government officials to become educated on the subject to learn how to prevent voter suppression and compromised elections. Getting out of the social media black hole is hard because it is addicting. It is a topic that needs to be talked about more seriously. This eye opening documentary has me questioning my life choices and makes me wonder if the life I’m living is my own because I have relinquished so much power to social media. Who would you be without your social media?

Kiley Cryer

Wisconsin '24

Hey y'all! I'm currently a freshman at UW Madison studying Political Science/International Studies.I absolutely love the outdoors and you can pretty much find me doing something out there most days of the week.I'm also a huge yogi so if you want to do yoga together let me know!
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