The Social Dilemma, Review and things I liked and disliked about it

The Social Dilemma Poster


We tweet, we like and share- but what are the consequences of our growing dependence on social media? As digital platforms increasingly become a lifeline to stay connected, Silicon Valley insiders reveal how social media is reprogramming civilization by exposing what’s hiding on the other side of your screen.

IMDB: 7.6
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%

“If you are not buying the product, then you are the product”


I don’t watch many documentaries but the hype and reviews I read about it when it was released on 9th September 2020, I was compulsed to watch it. I watched it again for the review and here is my take on the review of The Social Dilemma.
The Social Dilemma is a documentary/docudrama that every person who has a social media account or even an email id should watch. Even if one is not connected to any means of communication of internet, it also shows how the daily news that is supposed to provide unbiased and true information about what happens everyday inside our country and around the world is biased and aligned with the interests of the relations of the news’ company.
The Social Dilemma starts off by introducing us to various senior executives of different social media companies. They present themselves and tell us what role they had while they were in those companies. Soon we see the docudrama start off as well, where we see a family with young adults as well, Ben and Cassandra. Ben struggles with his attention on his smartphones and social media, and Cassandra stays disconnected from them.
The movie discusses how social media algorithms manipulate every individual’s brain and psychology. The Social Dilemma takes us into a deep dive where they show how the algorithms of social media apps target our soft spots like emotional, political, social, personal, stereotypical, mental, and various such aspects like these and keep on showing us more of the content that isolates us from what happens in the actual world. Although social media shows us what happens and goes on in the entire world, but it also restricts us to a limit where it only give us what will motivate us and our brain to stay longer on these social media apps.
As for the part where we see the drama between Ben and his eagerness to stick to his phone and let algorithms control him more, we see how big of an impact social media can have on people who tend to have faith on what the social media provides to them. We see Ben protesting and then later when police starts assaulting the protesters, Cassandra saves him in the nick of time. That is the point where one should think that what could have gone wrong if he had no one to save him. It is not a drama or enchament, but this happens and inflicts in everyone’s day-to-day life.
At last, all I will say is- this docudrama shocks the viewer and give a sense of insecurity that one should have in this world of vast and fast paced technology that keeps on changing, which we even not know if it will hamper us in one way or another. Try using your phones/laptops/tablets/TV’s a bit less everyday. Spend time with your family, and whenever you are with someone, try not using your phones and spend more time talking to them.

“We’re the product. Our attention is the product being sold to advertisers”

Things I liked about The Social Dilemma:

It is one of the highly rated documentary and one of the most shocking as well, as it is directly related to the general mass population on the entire planet. Here are some of my takes on the things I liked about The Social Dilemma:

  • The Social Dilemma sticks to the root of a normal day life of a normal young adult, who gets his major chunk of information from social media. It shows how someone who stays out of the web of social media might look like someone who does not belong to the group of new age people. Sticking to a story of a normal person explained the overall complex scenario much better.
  • Bringing in ex-senior members of multi-billion dollar companies who run these social media platforms, to explain how the algorithms really works and how this affect us everyday was a really good effort to make people understand the depth of the issue.
  • The way the writers make an effort to explain how ‘user attention’ is the product in this wide range of social media really shocks us. When MySpace and Facebook first came and became popular around the world, it was introduced as a means to connect with our families and friends. As the time progressed and more social media platforms came into existence, it became a competition for every such platform to get as many users as possible. Then in 2013, Edward Snowden releases how US government and these platform users are tracking their users privacy. That became the point where everything about these big companies and there social media platforms started unravelling.
  • The documentary shows how these apps are made to grow more and more addictive for the user. These companies don’t care if it is destroying your career, relationship, or life. The only thing that matters for these companies is how much time you spend on their apps.
  • The most horrifying part was when these AI’s have studied you so well enough that they have completely cloned you and know what you do, how you behave and what your trigger points are. It doesn’t matter if the company is Meta(Facebook Group), TikTok, Google or any such social media company, they are all the same and just want to benefit themselves no matter what it costs for their user.

“Social media isn’t a tool that’s just waiting to be used. It has its own goals and its own means of pursuing them.”

Things I disliked about The Social Dilemma:

There are not many, but just a few things I did not like about The Social Dilemma. Here are my picks from it:

  • Social media companies are not dependent on their viewers for profit making. They are dependent on the ads they allow to be placed on the feed that will be displayed to the users. From that, who ever clicks on the ad and interacts or purchases the item, the companies get a share of profit from the companies who placed the ads. Yes, social media platforms do track and study their users’ behaviour but that information is used to provide better and useful ads to their viewers.
    For example- a person who is losing hair and is getting bald would not enjoy the advertisement of a hair nourishing shampoo. Or a teenager getting an advertisement of pension plans will look bizarre. This will portray that company’s algorithms at fault which will make the user experience bad and might even lead to drop in active users.
  • Similarly, providing the best content to the user who is coming to the social media for entertainment is the most important aspect for a social media platform. These platform needs to make sure that their user get to see the most relatable content. Every user is not the same and every user has a different personality. If the content is not optimized for the user, he might just stop using that particular app and might start using some other rival social media app.

Guests that appeared in The Social Dilemma:

Tristan Harris
Former Google Design Ethicist
Co-Founder & President of Center for Humane Technology

Jaron Lanier
Computer Scientist and Founding Father of Virtual Reality

Tim Kendall
CEO of Moment
Former Director of Monetization at Facebook
Former President of Pinterest

Justin Rosenstein
Co-Founder of Asana and One Project
Former Engineering Lead at Facebook
Former Product Manager at Google

Shoshana Zuboff
Professor Emeritus at Harvard Business School
Author of “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism

Anna Lembke
Medical Director of Addiction Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine

Jeff Seibert
Former Senior Director of Product at Twitter

Aza Raskin
Former Head of User Experience at Mozilla
Inventor of the Infinite Scroll

And many more……..

“It’s a marketplace that trades exclusively in human futures.”

The Social Dilemma also has a website where a person can connect and get to know what are the latest updates regarding the laws and updates for social media and internet privacy.

Check out their website- The Social Dilemma.