Technology is an existential threat.
That may sound outlandish, but it won’t after you watch The Social Dilemma.
The hour and a half documentary playing on Netflix came to my attention while listening to the Glenn Beck show. It’s not a show I regularly listen to, but I had tuned in briefly yesterday morning. A woman from Nashville called to ask him if he was familiar with or had watched The Social Dilemma. Beck said he was and had. Both expressed how on target they thought it was and how frightening and deeply disturbing.
So I watched it.
Yes, it is upsetting.
There are two threads running through the show. First, former employees of Google, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram who were all in on the ground floor of these platforms, addressed their thoughts and fears about them. Second, there is a slim plot line of a typical young person who uses them all and how it impacts him.
The social network designers explain how the platforms manipulate people, particularly how Facebook has done it. Each one of us is a kind of “voodoo doll” that Facebook, for example, uses by first getting all the information on you and then steering you to places on the web or friends in a constant bombardment of people and information. Everything is tailored to make you look and do certain things and point you in a certain direction. Twitter, too, which wants you to continually look at their feed – or rather the feed they prepare for you – and all of them do it in devious ways.
The tech people explain how it is responsible for the isolation and depression that has spiked among young people since 2007. How young people have become obsessed with posting and interact to get “likes” and popularity. It explains why you can go to a restaurant or any event and see kids continually looking at their phone instead of engaging with others.
It also tells why we have the widening gap among right and left in politics. Right minded people are guided to those sites; Lefties to their own. There is no middle ground. There is no chance of debate. Some former employees shared how they got millions to believe that the earth is flat. It’s that easy.
You will have to watch it yourself to get the full impact of the documentary. We truly are at a point of civil war and self annihilation.
Tellingly, Beck shared that he and his children watched the show. They were horrified, he said. However, the next day, they were back on their phones, facebook, instagram, etc. and felt that the danger might be out there, but – at least for them – it was overblown.
Don’t miss the opportunity to see this. It’s surprising Netflix has it available, at least they do for now.