“There are only two industries that call their customers “users”: Illegal drugs and software” – The Social Dilemma
Did you know that all social media outlets are competing for your attention? How about I take it a step further and tell you that the technology that connects us in actuality manipulates, divides, controls, and monetizes every action that you and I do. They expect us to complete actions without a second thought. The Social Dilemma a documentary drama presents insights from social media programmers, CEO’s, VP’s and more on how detrimental social media is in terms of how it’s designed, regulated, and used daily. Not to mention, the constant “value” they bring with updates to apps keeps bringing users back and it spirals to become an addiction, and that addiction is something that is monitored. They build models to predict our actions. Furthermore, have you ever been to a site like Facebook or Instagram and seen an ad for something you’ve recently searched? Well, advertisers pay for the products social outlets use, therefore advertisers are the customers while social media outlets are the things being sold. To simplify that here’s a quote, “If you’re not paying for the product, then you are the product”. All social media outlets are competing for your attention. As a person who does searches for products/services I’m well aware of what’s happening when I see an ad pop up on Instagram or Facebook and why it’s happening. With that said, you and I cannot be evasive towards these social media outlets once we’re already “plugged” (have an account). So, the only way to no longer be prone to the bombardment of manipulating technology is to deactivate.
Social media has its own goals and one of them is using your psyche against you. One way they do this is by using “Growth Hacking”. Teams of engineers can hack people’s psychology so they can get more growth i.e. user sign-ups, engagements, recruiting, and impressions. During my watching of the film there was one sentiment that caught my attention that is very prevalent in diminishing the self – esteem of the users. VP of growth, mobile, and international FaceBook Chamath Palihapitiya said that social media creates “fake brittle popularity”. What he means is that these social media apps create a need for perfection and acceptance from groups we feel we should be included in, which then gives us a false sense of security and confidence with value boosters such as hearts, likes, retweets, etc… He closed out his speech by stating that social media is a digital pacifier for us to escape from our woes. The irony is that it provokes it even more and we find ourselves compelled to stay connected with all the app’s features and its constant upgrades that we have to try out.
All in all, as a film I found this to be very profound and the dramatization added an interesting element of action that displayed characters that are integral in the experience of social media and its dark side. All the individuals who were interviewed were credible and transparent on the devastating effects social media can cause overtime to individuals once they’re deep into it. As a person on social media I was not surprised with some of the information presented but definitely did make me more aware of the dangers and manipulations it can do one’s conscious and the control it can have that can lead to an addiction and disconnect from the outside world where we build the real and worthwhile connections. I implore you to check this film out because it’s thought provoking and to some life altering information terms of making better decisions when it comes to dealing with technology.
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