The Social Dilemma: The Addiction Consuming America


Ellie Reese, Editor

All Americans are guilty of indulging in the likes of social media much more than they probably should. The thought of it is all fun and games until your feed is consumed with pushy political ads, coronavirus craze, and influencers trying to sell you some idiotic product.

On September 9, 2020, Netflix released The Social Dilemma. In this documentary, director Jeff Orlowski offered an eye opening look into how these damaging devices were designed, told by the very people who helped create them.

American film reviewer Nell Minow said, “This one might as well be called “Chasing Us” as it asks fundamental and existential questions about whether we are literally writing (with code) ourselves out of the ability to make vital decisions about our own survival.” The thought is that the technology was created to keep us connected, but was it really? It is suggested that social media may have been designed to manipulate human’s natural behavior.

Orlowski takes two different approaches. First, he gathers a group of regretful engineers and businessmen that used to be highly involved with the construction of the platforms we use today. He then calls upon actors and actresses to represent a classic American family being destroyed by the media.

Although the second approach was enlightening, instead of hiring actors and actresses, Orlowski could have interviewed real people suffering from media addiction. It would have been more beneficial for the audience to see this sickness in its true form rather than through fictional storytelling.

In one of the more powerful scenes, a teen is shown being upset with their appearance. The teen is taking selfies using distorting filters. This almost leaves them unrecognizable, but with still zero satisfaction. It is no secret that humans crave attention and interaction. The human race thrives off this.

The creator of the Facebook like button said that he intended for the feature to spread positivity. Sadly, this has been twisted to express negative thoughts and hate on ourselves and others. It can even cause a person to change their physical appearance to please outsiders. As a person watches their likes skyrocket or remain neutral, it can have an impact on their mind.

Ex Google employee Tristan Harris explains this by saying, “social media begins to dig deeper and deeper down into the brain stem and take over kids’ sense of self worth and identity.”

The documentary further shows this by studying how the constant need for approval has led to a decline in mental health. It was said that out of 5,000 individuals, people who used social media more frequently reported mental and physical issues as well as less personal satisfaction. Hopefully films such as this one can help start a revolution of improved mental security after witnessing the destruction social media can have on a person.

Casey Newton, Silicon Valley Editor for said, “my thinking has benefited tremendously from speaking over the years with some of the interview subjects in the film.”

As for myself, the film was a thought provoking experience to say the least, without actually meeting the creators. Imagine getting to talk to these individuals. Their energy and emotions read very clearly throughout the entire film, making the documentary so powerful. I applaud them for coming forth with their regret to be a part of such an impactful production. I applaud Orlowski as well for shining a light on this pressing issue through his work. Although it is not official whether or not the technology was intended to build the American people up or tear them down, The Social Dilemma will make you want to take a much needed break from those social media accounts.