The Social Dilemma. Where Do We Draw The Line?
Maybe that’s just a habit I developed, as I’ve been on Facebook for as long as it existed, and was fairly [very] active across the years… Communicating and writing is what I do after all, so it was basically my shiny playground and I stuck with it. I enjoyed making people laugh, think, question, dream, debate… and so I went on sharing sprees; of inspiration, art, unsolicited advice, frustrations, outspoken opinions…you know how it goes. Having been in that space kept me alert on how much the platform shifted and evolved throughout the years, and I often reflect on that.
A few years back, I decided to go through my photo albums, and deleted many of them thinking “they’re not Facebook appropriate anymore”. I didn’t even know what that meant, just that it meant something. Today, I use it a lot differently and so much less (but let’s be real – instagram stories is where I’m at these days).
Back when Facebook first happened, in my experience at least, it was all about connecting with friends, embarrassing each other on our “walls” to entertain more friends, sending each other “lives” for games… it was more of a reserved social space, and content was more user-generated. Fast forward to today, where seeing who posted what on someone’s wall and playing games is far from why we’re scrolling through our feeds for hours or checking notifications on autopilot.
From being a space where you can connect with friends and entertain each other, it quickly became a place to sell, organize troops, and seek recognition. Today, there’s an overwhelming amount of information from groups, pages, brands, news outlets, advertisements… and while you have the option of being selective with who and what you follow, and turning off notifications, and knowing your feed is solely tailored to you, the bottom point is that this platform is not the same anymore… but that’s not exactly the issue. Technology’s purpose in itself is to advance. (Besides, social media has come a long way since Facebook with apps like Instagram, Reddit, TikTok and so on… but I’ll mainly use Facebook as a reference.)
I believe what changed is the core purpose behind “Facebook”, which has now become a question of privacy and ethics. Facebook was not built on the intention of being a data collecting and moneymaking machine when it first begun, it just found its advantage there and escalated forward, so much that it took ownership of Instagram and WhatsApp… and now whatever you do on those apps is recorded by Facebook to be used against you. Now I don’t mean to say that in such a heavy and pessimistic way… but the fact is, our presence on those platforms is being use to empower and grow this system they’ve designed, which is benefiting them in unimaginable ways while it drains us of our essence and will power.
Technology always seemed to scare me a little. The idea of something so intelligent taking a life of its own always gave me an eerie feeling, but I went with it, and still do, because to keep up with modern times you have to interact with it… and surely, we can’t deny how much it can serve as an amazing and revolutionary tool for humanity.
I think the issue lies in how this tool that we were meant to be in control of and have fun with, is now in complete control of us, begging for our attention, consuming hours from our lifetime, and even tending to our needs using algorithms – whether it was for business reasons or entertainment, and not everyone is attentive to that or aware of how it’s directly impacting the way we think, behave, reason, and communicate with each other. From fake news and propagandas to standard setting and cyber bulling, there is little to no control over how such tools unfold.
Having said that… where does the actual “social dilemma” come in? I won’t be revealing much about the documentary-film itself because if I could urge every person to watch it, I would, hence this article.
Although, we all know somewhere deep down about the murky waters that lie beneath these platforms, the psychological and mental health consequences, the identity and self-esteem crises, the social anxiety… we don’t have much substance and insight on what’s really happening behind the scenes and behind our screens.
This is where this documentary takes the gold. Perhaps what instantly caught my attention were the notable speakers and big heads in the tech industry and executives behind platforms like Google, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest that took part in revealing information that is quite hard to swallow. The way it’s all put together is really quite brilliant and wholesome, alternating between a modern reality film and a collection of insights illustrated in a way that displays the big, full, and important picture.
While we can’t deny all the great things social media has given us; connectivity, learning, sharing, community, market growth… and the list goes on… we also need to revise and be mindful of how its impacting the fabric of society as a whole. What is the connection between how it’s evolving and why we’re falling? Why does my phone know me better than I know myself?
These are questions we have speculated answers to, which prove to be entirely logical, and are articulated well on The Social Dilemma.
Do you ever feel emotionally and psychologically drained after spending so much time on your phone? Did you ever catch yourself comparing your life to someone else’s and then feeling entirely miserable about your circumstances, despite the fact that you’ve come a long way on your own path? Do you find yourself wasting hours of your day scrolling away, unsure of what you’re looking for but also unable to put your phone down? Do you find it difficult to sit back and do nothing without having to check your phone every few minutes? Did you lose touch with a hobby, your family, your friends, and even yourself because you’ve been paying more attention to your screen?
There’s a high chance at least one of the above resonates with you, or has at some point, and that’s ok. We’ve all fallen victim to this and there is a very intelligent design behind it… but I have good news! It’s not too late to fight back.
Now I’m not here to tell you to get off the grid completely, though if you’d favor that, then hats off to you! However, if you were a little more like me, and enjoy being social online, there are ways to do it without falling down the rabbit hole.
First and foremost, knowledge is the basis of understanding how something works, so this is where I’ll say it again… if you haven’t watched The Social Dilemma yet – do it. I’m sure once you do, you’ll know what you need to do… but I won’t leave you without any pointers that have personally helped me, so I’m going to cut this article short here and put together another one on the little steps you can take to balance out your social media use in order to gain your authentic life back.
Check out the trailer here for The Social Dilemma
Tags: Lebanese Cinema
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