\the social dilemma
I’m going to be employing the algorithms that got you on my Medium profile to watch \the social dilemma.
The Netflix documentary has brought some of the best minds that worked at companies like Google, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and others, to help the viewers understand the psychologically-manipulative, fake news rabbit holes we’ve gotten ourselves into, and their devastating impact on our futures.
As Tristan Harris, a former design ethicist at Google and co-founder of Center For Humane Technology states, “With technology, you don’t have to overwhelm people’s strengths. You just have to overwhelm their weaknesses. This is overpowering human nature. And this is checkmate on humanity.”
This is done with the assistance of artificial intelligence and supercomputers that are subtly changing your behaviour, programming by way of addiction, to make you react and respond the way they want to — they way their highest bidder wants to. You watch what they stream. You buy what they sell. You believe what they show. You execute what they expect. The social media is a magician’s ring and we’re all getting tricked.
Social dilemma gives you a small glimpse of our dystopian world, not determined by our thinking but the thinking social media has gotten us addicted to.
It’s a truly frightening world. One where you are simply a ‘user’ — playing to the follies of the richest companies. Each one of us living in our own Truman Show. You have no control over your present and future actions, the social media does.
However, beyond what we generally understand as the banality of social media, this documentary gives you a chance towards determining the collective will that we can have in becoming a better society. A point that the former employees at these tech companies highlighted, was the naivety that they had while designing the platforms. As much as these platforms harvest our data, their initial vision was towards making our society feel closer.
To ‘like’ a photo was an attempt to make you feel better, not isolated and fragile.
The platforms were designed to generate a new social order of sorts, where tech was reliant on us to rekindle communication. The business models created around these platforms, on the other hand, abused this social behaviour. As a result, what we have is an overwhelming breakdown of privacy and trust, in turn leading us to become agents of social disorder and mindless consumption.
The question, remains: can we stop this impending apocalypse? The answers are hopeful, positive and long-term. We cannot short-change our way out of this social dilemma, but we can climb our way out of this rabbit hole.
As one of the interview subjects in the documentary states, “Get off social media. Go outside.”
\the social dilemma, directed by Jeff Orlowski is currently streaming on Netflix.