• Natene Erumi

The Social Dilemma: Is Technology A Threat To Our Humanity?

The Social Dilemma is a new documentary-drama on Netflix about the impact social media is having on humans and how tech is destroying our society.

It draws on topics such as addiction to social media, data collection and the effects social media has on mental health.

A lot of what was spoken about in this documentary wasn’t particularly new to me, but hearing the urgency of the problem and techniques used from the people who created a lot of this technology was what made the difference for me.

I first watched the Social Dilemma two weeks ago and haven’t been able to forget a lot of the things mentioned in the documentary.

I always say whenever watching documentaries and non-fiction programmes you should take everything said with a pitch of salt - don’t be quick to believe everything you hear. Though it was scary to hear from tech professionals how social media is manipulated and has such a great an effect on us.

Present and former Tech employees of some of the most popular social media platforms, such as Facebook, shared secrets about how companies like Facebook and Reddit would take and use our data.

Essentially, companies track our movements on their apps/websites in order to construct algorithms, which help them to predict human behaviour. The more information they collect, the more accurate these algorithms become.

There’s a reason why you feel like your Instagram feed is reading your mind. Scary right?

That’s not even the worst of it...

Social media and technology is built to be addictive. These companies study your behaviour and create more ways to keep you hooked.

In short, every time you get a like on Instagram or an alert from your phone, it is almost like a reward which causes the release of a hormone that stimulates pleasure - dopamine.

The inventor of the like button on Facebook even deleted Facebook and limits his general screen time. I don’t know about you, but that’s saying something! So not only are these companies trying to build algorithms to predict our behaviour, they are also conditioning our behaviour. Again, scary right?

I believe that we really underestimate the power social media has on us. It is changing our behaviour without us even realising and impacting our mental health day by day.

People are constantly seeking validation through social media; the introduction of things like filters have caused a lot of body dysmorphia and depression. It is no surprise that suicide rates increased along with the rise of social media. What worries me the most is that these companies do not really care as capitalism is what underpins the social impact of technology. These companies are concerned about their profits, not the well-being of people.

The important message I took from this documentary is even though social media can be beautiful, it is bringing out the worst in humans; if technology keeps advancing and data keeps being collected, the worst is yet to come…

I advise taking social media breaks and simply detoxing. Social media is not real life and as people, too often we tend to conflate with what we see on the internet and relay it into real life.

Scrolling through your timeline and seeing constant negativity is definitely not good for you. Be mindful of what you consume.

If you can’t take breaks, just start off with simple things, like reducing your screen time or keeping yourself occupied with another hobby.

I do think that it’s not solely our responsibility to fix the damage caused by social media because companies play a more significant role.

However we can try to fix some of the things we can control. I would hate social media to be the death of humanity.


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