The Social Dilemma is a PG-13 “docudrama” exploring the rise of social media and its impact on society. The film provides an in-depth analysis of the many dark sides of social media: how it exploits users for financial gain, is specifically designed to create social media addictions, is detrimental to mental health, promotes conspiracy theories, and plays a role in politics. The documentary was originally released on Jan. 26, 2020 at the Sundance Film Festival, but was made popular after it was released on Netflix on Sep. 9, 2020.
The movie is composed of multiple interviews of former social media employees along with a fictional story demonstrating the harmful effects of social media. Many of the interview subjects discussed the moral and ethical problems that they experienced with their jobs in social media, which ultimately caused them to quit. The fictional portion of the docudrama follows Ben, a teenager with a social media addiction, as he slowly falls for the manipulative tactics of social media and dives deeper into his social media addiction.
To say that The Social Dilemma was eye-opening would be a major understatement; this docudrama completely changed my perception of social media. Before viewing the film, I was aware that the social media industry’s main goal was to make money, but I was not aware of all of the measures social media companies take to secure a profit. The director of The Social Dilemma, Jeff Orlowski, does a brilliant job of painting a detailed picture of the problems of social media, many of which are abstract ideas that are extremely difficult to visualize or put into words.
One of my favorite parts of The Social Dilemma was at the very end of the film. As the credits were rolling, the interviewees recommended taking numerous countermeasures to protect oneself against social media. Some of these countermeasures include keeping devices out of the bedroom after a certain time, uninstalling social media and news applications that are wasting time, and turning off notifications. Junior Rachel Gordon applied the last recommendation. “I turned off my social media notifications which has helped me focus on being present,” Rachel said.
The Social Dilemma has sparked different responses throughout the Freeman community. Junior Vinny Coriaty described the movie as “weird” and “disturbing.” Rachel said that she liked the documentary but also characterized it as “scary.” Overall, The Social Dilemma was a very informative and thought-provoking film. I would absolutely recommend this film to anyone who uses social media. I think that it is especially important for students to view this documentary because young people could be more vulnerable to the manipulation of social media, and by watching The Social Dilemma, they can be more aware of social media’s real agenda.